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Data / Software Development

Oracle Support for MySQL 5.7 Ends Soon, Key Upgrades in 8.0

New functionality for a data dictionary, in addition to greater support for JSON, make MySQL 8.0 a logical choice.
May 30th, 2023 10:35am by
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Oracle will end support for MySQL 5.7, an open source relational database it’s developed, on Oct. 31, 2023. The 5.7 version, for which Oracle still provides Extended Support, was released in 2015.

The upcoming end-of-life date means Oracle will no longer provide updates to this version of the database, which is widely used by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names for web-based applications. Organizations may still continue to use this solution for as long as they want.

The scant remaining time until Oracle’s support expires has renewed interest in MySQL 8.0, which was initially released five years ago. Oracle currently offers Premier Support and Extended Support for this edition, which will expire in 2025 and 2026, respectively.

The 8.0 offering features a plethora of upgrades that include “a whole slew of things in there,” summarized Dave Stokes, Percona Technology Evangelist. “I would say it’s like jumping from a 12-inch black and white TV to a 70-inch 4K TV. It’s a big step forward.”

Some of the more noteworthy advancements in the 8.0 version include a formal data dictionary and greater JSON functionality. There are also mechanisms for helping organizations understand — and act on — requirements for upgrades for their particular version of the database.

Upgrade Utility

MySQL Shell contains functionality for helping users transition to MySQL 8.0. According to Stokes, “If you run the MySQL Shell, there’s a utility called Check For Server Upgrade that will go out there and run 21 or 23 different checks.” Those checks evaluate a host of factors relevant to upgrading to MySQL 8.0, including everything from partitioning issues to outdated character sets.

In addition to examining which facets of the current version need to be updated, this feature also provides timely advice for rectifying issues to make the process smoother. “It doesn’t fix it for you; you have to do it,” Stokes commented. “It says, ‘here’s how you solve this issue, or here’s where the manual page is to help you solve this issue’.”

Metadata Dictionary

One of the immediate benefits of adopting MySQL 8.0 is its data dictionary, which houses metadata about the offering in a single, centralized locus. In previous versions of the database, such metadata was scattered about in separate files in numerous places. “If you have a junior administrator that saw all these little bitty files and decided to clean them up, then suddenly the database [would] stop working,” Stokes remarked. Centralizing this metadata makes operations more efficient and enhances system performance.

For starters, it makes it possible to glean, in a single query, specifics about the structure of tables and their schema. Without this capability, to obtain this same information “with 5.7 you’re actually opening up a table and looking at the definition of a table,” Stokes said. “You’re opening the file, reading it, then taking a look at it and figuring, if I want to use this information how do I parse this in somehow and handle it?” The query approach of 8.0 automates and accelerates such manual processing, as well as others involving regular expressions.


The JSON enhancements MySQL 8.0 offers are particularly useful, expanding the value of what Stokes termed “the data interchange format of choice.” On the one hand, there is a JSON table function that enables users to temporarily position the unstructured and semi-structured data in JSON objects into a table. That way, organizations can readily query that data via SQL techniques like “windowing function, aggregate function, sort by, group by… all that sort of stuff,” Stokes noted. When doing so, the actual JSON data will remain unstructured (or semi-structured), while there is a structured data copy of it.

Alternatively, the latest version of MySQL has ways to “take that unstructured data and materialize it into its own column and make it permanently structured,” Stokes revealed. “So, if you have stuff and you want to make it permanently structured, so you can index it and make it faster for search, you can.” These capabilities are crucial for dealing with the massive quantities of unstructured data organizations regularly encounter. According to Stokes, it’s also pertinent for working with all of the data formatted in JSON, which spans everything from tiny Internet of Things devices to some of the world’s biggest databases.

A Logical Progression

Upgrading from MySQL 5.7 to MySQL 8.0 is a logical progression. There are numerous enhancements in the latter version, like its data dictionary and JSON improvements, that make doing so worthwhile. Moreover, there are dedicated mechanisms to ease the upgrade process and pinpoint exactly what organizations need to do to make this transition work.

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