Getting Started with MySQL Enterprise & MySQL Enterprise Components

12/20/2011 5:36:38 PM

1. Getting Started with MySQL Enterprise

MySQL Enterprise was launched in 2006 and comprises the Enterprise MySQL server release, a set of monitoring tools, and product support services. This new packaging is intended for customers who use MySQL for data management. Early on, MySQL recognized the need organizations have for stability and reliability. MySQL Enterprise was the answer to this need.


If you are not ready to purchase a MySQL Enterprise subscription or you want to try it out for a while before deciding, you can get a trial subscription that will last for 30 days. Apply for a trial subscription at

MySQL Enterprise adds the web-based MEM application, along with a separate MySQL server instance to be a repository for the metrics collected by other applications installed on your MySQL servers, called agents. MEM combines the metrics into reports that you can enhance with heuristics called advisors that help you enforce best practices based on MySQL research and expertise. The reports are displayed on a web page called a dashboard.

The following sections describe the available options for the MySQL Enterprise subscription service as well as an overview of the installation process. Later sections describe the features and benefits in more detail.

1.1. Subscription Levels

You can purchase the MySQL Enterprise Suite at one of four subscription levels, called basic, silver, gold, and platinum. The basic level is the least expensive and offers the fewest tools. The next three levels offer graduated levels of tool support. Thus, you can choose the level that best meets both your budget and needs for improving the availability of your servers:


This level includes the Pro version of the MySQL server. It provides basic coverage for the MySQL server, including software updates and two support incidents. Support turnaround and response time is two business days. Also included is access to MySQL’s vast knowledge base for researching common problems and solutions. This level does not include the monitoring tools. The basic level is best for organizations that need production-quality software but may not need advanced monitoring or immediate response to support issues.


This level includes the options for the basic level along with the monitoring tools with a limited set of advisors for administration and upgrades. A phone support option is included, with unlimited incident reports, and turnaround time is four hours. The silver level is a good start for most organizations that rely on MySQL for their database management solutions and that want to ensure their installations are configured correctly.


This level adds the Advanced version of the MySQL server (which includes partitioning) and includes all options for the silver level plus additional advisors for monitoring replication and memory. It also includes the MySQL Query Analyzer option for the monitor. Consultation support is added, covering replication and partitioning. Response times for incident reports are two hours, with an emergency response option. The gold level is an excellent choice for organizations that use replication as part of their MySQL installations.


This level includes all of the options from the gold level, plus all advisors, expanded consultation support for all areas, 24/7 phone support, and a one-hour response to incidents, with a 30-minute emergency response time. This level even provides an option for having a custom build of the MySQL server. The platinum level is for organizations that need the highest level of support for their most critical data management needs.

With so many options to choose from, you can add more support as your business grows. You can find specific details about pricing and what is included with each level at

1.2. Installation Overview

When you purchase a MySQL Enterprise subscription, you are given a product key and login credentials to the MySQL Enterprise portal. Connection to this portal is necessary to activate the MySQL Enterprise tools. The portal is your one-stop location for downloading updates, checking for upgrades, news, information about your subscription, and access to the knowledge base.

The portal is called the MySQL Enterprise Customer Center and it is located at


For offline installations and those without an Internet connection on the server on which you want to install MySQL Enterprise, you can download your product key via a file from the portal and use that during the installation. You will also need your advisory bundle .jar file. You can download both of these files from the portal.

Visit the portal first to download the Enterprise tools installation files for your platforms, your production release of the MySQL server, the Getting Started guide, and Enterprise documentation. Be sure to read the Getting Started guide, as it has specific instructions for installing and configuring the Enterprise tools for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows platforms.

We briefly describe the steps necessary to install and configure the MySQL Enterprise suite. Installation involves the following steps (at a minimum):

  1. Install the service manager component, including the metrics repository (a separate installation of MySQL), which is operating system–specific. For example, you would install the file named mysqlmonitor- on a Mac OS X system.

  2. Activate your subscription and enable the Enterprise Dashboard. During this stage, you are required to enter your product key, either via a file or by logging into the MySQL Enterprise portal.

  3. Install the monitoring agent on your MySQL servers. This is also operating system–specific. For example, you would install an agent such as mysqlmonitoragent- on Linux systems.

  4. Configure the dashboard to reflect your environment.

While it is possible to install the monitor agent on any server and monitor another, it is best to install the agent on the server you wish to monitor. This permits the agent to send operating system statistics, performance data, and configuration parameters to the Dashboard. If you install the agent on another system, the system section of the Dashboard report for the MySQL server will be blank.


It is possible to configure an agent to report statistics for multiple servers as well as to report to multiple monitors. The former lets a single agent monitor two or more instances of the MySQL server on a single system; the latter allows multiple dashboards to report data from MEM. Both of these scenarios are described in the MEM reference manual.

The installation of the MEM package includes a self-contained web server and MySQL instance that you install on the system where you want to host the Dashboard and metrics collection. This system is the destination for each of the monitoring agents. This process is very easy to perform and does not require any web administration expertise.

During the installation of the monitor package, you will have to make decisions about the names of certain accounts and note the location (e.g., IP address) of your server. You will need this information when installing the monitoring agents. The Getting Started guide notes all of these items. Pay particular attention to the example screens in the guide. It may be helpful to print out the guide and use it to write down the information you supply during the installation for later reference.

Installation of the monitoring agents is also very easy. Once your monitoring server is up and running and the product key has been validated, you can install one agent on each of the MySQL servers in your network. Some systems may require manually starting the agent, which is explained in detail in the guide.

Once at least one agent is installed and started, you can return to the Enterprise Dashboard and start configuring it to fit your needs.

2. MySQL Enterprise Components

MySQL Enterprise comprises the MySQL server software, the MEM toolset, and production support.

2.1. MySQL Enterprise Server

Two versions of the MySQL server are included in the MySQL Enterprise subscription. The Pro version is the production release with the most stable feature set. The Advanced version adds more experimental features—for example, horizontal table and index partitioning, which can improve the performance of very large databases.

2.2. MEM

The MEM forms the core of the continuous server monitoring and alerts. The MySQL website states it best: “It’s like having a ‘Virtual DBA Assistant’ at your side to recommend best practices to eliminate security vulnerabilities, improve replication, optimize performance and more.” Despite the marketing angle, the MEM gives you professional-level tools to meet the growing needs of your business’s data center.

The MEM includes the following key features:

  • A single web-based display to monitor the health of all of your servers

  • Over 600 metrics, including the MySQL server and its host operating system

  • The ability to monitor performance, replication, schema, and security

  • Immediate health status via an easy-to-read heat chart

  • Notification of metric threshold violations

  • Implementation of the best practices ruleset from the creators of MySQL

The MEM is composed of a distributed web-based application that you run on your internal network. A monitoring agent is installed on each MySQL server that sends metrics to the web server component, called the Enterprise Dashboard. It is here that you can see all of the statistics and graphs that depict the status of your servers. There are also advisors that implement the best practices for ensuring your installations are properly configured and running at peak efficiency.

2.2.1. Enterprise Dashboard

The face of the MySQL Enterprise tools is the Enterprise Dashboard, the web application running on your monitoring server. The Enterprise Dashboard provides a single location where you can monitor all of your servers, either individually or in groups. You can see the availability, security, and performance data for all of your servers in one place. You can check the relative health of each, examine graphs of performance and memory use, and see vital operating system statistics for each server.

The Enterprise Dashboard presents monitoring and alert information to you in an easy-to-read format. An example of a simple installation is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The MySQL Enterprise Dashboard

As you can see, the Enterprise Dashboard provides all of the critical information on a single screen. There are tabs for advisors, events, additional performance graphs, the Query Analyzer, replication, and configuration settings. The What’s New? tab contains links to news and events concerning the tools and your Enterprise subscriptions.

2.2.2. Monitoring agent

The monitoring agent is a special lightweight application that gathers information about a MySQL server, including statistics about the host operating system. The monitoring agent is therefore the key component in the monitoring tools. Designed to be installed on each server you want to monitor, the agent is not only lightweight, but almost transparent, with no noticeable performance degradation.

2.2.3. Advisors

The MySQL Enterprise tools include one feature that departs from typical enterprise monitoring solutions: a mechanism that monitors specific areas of system performance and configuration and sends alerts when a server diverges from the best practices defined by the designers of MySQL. This means you can get immediate feedback on anything that can cause your system to become suboptimal in configuration, security, or performance. This mechanism is called an advisor, and there are many of them monitoring and reporting on a wide variety of areas. The advisors supplied are:


Monitors general database administration and performance.


Monitors upgrade conditions and sends alerts about potential issues with version-specific bugs. Also suggests upgrade strategies for fixing specific bugs related to upgrade issues.


Identifies differences in performance based on MySQL performance best practice rules.


Identifies changes to database and schema objects. Can monitor changes and provide alerts when unwanted or unexpected changes occur.

Memory Usage

Identifies changes in memory usage and sends alerts when suboptimal conditions arise.


Identifies and sends alerts when potential security vulnerabilities arise.


Identifies replication-specific conditions related to configuration, health, synchronization (delays), and performance issues.


You can also create custom advisors to support your own best practices or specific needs.

Each advisor provides comprehensive coverage of a specific area of the server using a set of rules based on best practices. The advisors help you identify where your servers need attention and give you advice on how to improve or correct the situation. If the set of advisors isn’t broad enough, you can create your own advisors to meet your needs.

2.2.4. Query Analyzer (gold and platinum levels)

Complex databases and the complex applications that they tend to support can result in the execution of complex queries. Given the expressiveness of SQL, queries are often not written to execute as efficiently as possible. Furthermore, poorly written queries can often be the source of poor performance on other levels. Savvy DBAs acknowledge this and often look to the queries first for database performance diagnostics.

You can normally find a poorly performing query by watching the slow query log or the process list (i.e., issuing a SHOW PROCESSLIST command). Once you have identified a query that needs your attention, you can use the EXPLAIN command to see how MySQL will execute the query. While this process is well known and has been used by DBAs for some time, it is a labor-intensive task that does not easily lend itself to scripting. As the complexity of the database grows, so too does the labor involved in diagnosing poorly performing queries.

You can examine user queries with this method, but what do you do when investigating application performance where the SQL statements are included in the application code itself? This situation is among the hardest to diagnose and repair, as it requires changing the application. Assuming that is possible, how do you advise the developers to improve their queries?

Unfortunately, the SQL statements in the application code are rarely suspected of being the source of performance problems. DBAs and developers are all too quick to blame the server or system instead of application code or embedded SQL queries. Worse still, the MySQL system does not support robust performance metric collection and there is little support for finding troublesome queries.

Wouldn’t it be better to see a list of all of the long-running queries on your server and examine the slowest ones? The Query Analyzer component of the Enterprise Monitor tools provides this help.

You can enable the Query Analyzer via the Enterprise Dashboard. Installation and configuration require a little work, so be sure to consult the Getting Started guide for details.

The Query Analyzer provides an aggregate display showing performance statistics for queries in real time. It shows all of your queries from all of your servers in one place so you don’t need to go from server to server looking for poorly performing queries. This same list maintains a history of the queries so you don’t have to worry about the additional space for logs.

You can get two different views for each query: a canonical view (no numeric data) to see a pictorial version of the query, and a version that shows specific timing and access data for the query. Best of all, the advisor can even alert you when a given query was executed and on which server.

The Query Analyzer allows you to see which queries are performing poorly and to identify a solution by examining the suspected query’s execution plan. Clearly, this feature alone can provide huge time savings, especially for situations in which you are developing or tuning an application for deployment or need to optimize your queries for improved performance.

2.3. MySQL Production Support

The MySQL Enterprise subscription includes access to support professionals who can help you with development, deployment, and management of your MySQL servers. Support includes problem resolution, consulting, access to an online knowledge base of common solutions, and (with the platinum subscription) a technical account manager who will be your point of contact, helping you with all of your support needs.

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