- What is the difference between MySQL Replication and MySQL Cluster?
MySQL currently supports two different solutions for creating a high availability environment and achieving multi-server scalability.
The first form is replication, which MySQL has supported since MySQL version 3.23. Replication in MySQL is currently implemented as an asyncronous master-slave setup that uses a logical log-shipping backend.
A master-slave setup means that one server is designated to act as the master. It is then required to receive all of the write queries. The master then executes and logs the queries, which is then shipped to the slave to execute and hence to keep the same data across all of the replication members.
Replication is asyncronous, which means that the slave server is not guaranteed to have the data when the master performs the change. Normally, replication will be as real-time as possible. However, there is no guarantee about the time required for the change to propagate to the slave.
Replication can be used for many reasons. Some of the more common reasons include scalibility, server failover, and for backup solutions.
Scalibility can be achieved due to the fact that you can now do can do SELECT queries across any of the slaves. Write statements however are not improved generally due to the fact that writes have to occur on each of the replication member.
Failover can be implemented fairly easily using an external monitoring utility that uses a heartbeat or similar mechanism to detect the failure of a master server. MySQL does not currently do automatic failover as the logic is generally very application dependent. Keep in mind that due to the fact that replication is asynchronous that it is possible that not all of the changes done on the master will have propagated to the slave.
MySQL replication works very well even across slower connections, and with connections that aren't continuous. It also is able to be used across different hardware and software platforms. It is possible to use replication with most storage engines including MyISAM and InnoDB.
MySQL Cluster is a shared nothing, distributed, partitioning system that uses synchronous replication in order to maintain high availability and performance.
MySQL Cluster is implemented through a separate storage engine called NDB Cluster. This storage engine will automatically partition data across a number of data nodes. The automatic partitioning of data allows for parallelization of queries that are executed. Both reads and writes can be scaled in this fashion since the writes can be distributed across many nodes.
Internally, MySQL Cluster also uses synchronous replication in order to remove any single point of failure from the system. Since two or more nodes are always guaranteed to have the data fragment, at least one node can fail without any impact on running transactions. Failure detection is automatically handled with the dead node being removed transparent to the application. Upon node restart, it will automatically be re-integrated into the cluster and begin handling requests as soon as possible.
There are a number of limitations that currently exist and have to be kept in mind while deciding if MySQL Cluster is the correct solution for your situation.
Currently all of the data and indexes stored in MySQL Cluster are stored in main memory across the cluster. This does restrict the size of the database based on the systems used in the cluster. Work is underway to allow data to be stored on disk and will most likely appear in MySQL version 5.1.
MySQL Cluster is designed to be used on an internal network as latency is very important for response time. As a result, it is not possible to run a single cluster across a wide geographic distance. In addition, while MySQL Cluster will work over commodity network setups, in order to attain the highest performance possible special clustering interconnects can be used.