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On October 21, 2023, MySQL 5.7 will reach its end of life (EOL). This means that Oracle, the company behind MySQL, will no longer provide official updates, bug fixes, or security patches for MySQL 5.7.

While MySQL 5.7 has served as the go-to solution for many applications and developers, the changing landscape of transactional data calls for a strategic shift. An upgrade to a newer, supported version of MySQL seems like the most straightforward step, but is it the only option? What if there was an alternative that could match your evolving requirements and help overcome current limitations?

This post serves as a brief guide for organizations considering this migration, particularly those evaluating the possibility of transitioning to a distributed SQL database.

Evolving transactional data processing and challenges faced by MySQL 

As businesses today become increasingly data-driven, transactional data processing has evolved dramatically over the recent decade. There is a continuous shift towards real-time, high-volume transactional processing. There also remains the need for immediate analytical insights derived from that data. Simultaneously, the growth in data scale and demand for high-availability applications have highlighted the limitations of MySQL.

MySQL, despite its popularity and robust features, has limitations when tackling these evolving needs. These challenges include:

  • Scaling: The performance of MySQL becomes unstable when scaling write-intensive applications. It becomes especially challenging as your data size grows beyond a single node’s capacity, which can affect performance.
  • High Availability: While MySQL offers features like replication and clustering for high availability, setting these up and managing them effectively require careful planning, configuration, and constant monitoring. Furthermore, traditional MySQL replication can result in lag, potentially leading to data inconsistencies.
  • Real-Time Analytics: As businesses demand real-time insights from their transactional data, the separation of Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) and Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) systems in MySQL architecture can be a bottleneck. Analytical queries can affect the performance of transactional processing. This leads to separate analytical databases handling these queries, greatly increasing technical complexity.
  • Handling Modern Architectures: The shift towards cloud-native architectures and microservices poses additional challenges for traditional, monolithic systems like MySQL.

As businesses outgrow their infrastructure, pushing data sizes from 1TB to 100TB+ while still expecting the same performance, these limitations become increasingly evident.

Exploring alternatives: The transition from MySQL 5.7

With MySQL 5.7 nearing its end of life, it’s time to reassess your options and future-proof your data handling capabilities.

Upgrade to a supported MySQL version

This involves moving from MySQL 5.7 to a newer version such as MySQL 8.0, which is actively maintained and supported by Oracle.

Pros: This option ensures ongoing support, new features, and performance improvements. It’s often the simplest choice as it requires minimal changes to existing infrastructure and application code.

Cons: Upgrading to a newer version of MySQL doesn’t solve the inherent challenges related to scaling, high availability, and handling modern cloud-native architectures. It also relies on the future commitment of Oracle to maintain and advance the MySQL product.

Adopt MySQL forks

MySQL forks like MariaDB and Percona Server are independently developed and offer alternative paths for MySQL users.

Pros: These forks often introduce features and performance improvements faster than MySQL. Moving to a fork can provide continuity of support, the familiarity of MySQL-compatible features, and potential enhancements.

Cons: Like MySQL, these forks still face challenges when dealing with highly concurrent, write-intensive workloads, or when deployed in distributed architectures. Moreover, the quality of support can vary, and some enterprises may be hesitant to rely on community-driven projects.

Migrate to a distributed SQL database

If your application requires scalability and high availability beyond what a single MySQL instance can offer, a distributed SQL database like TiDB might be a suitable alternative.

Pros: Distributed SQL databases combine the best aspects of traditional RDBMS (ACID compliance, SQL support) with the benefits of NoSQL systems (horizontal scalability, high availability). TiDB, in particular, is compatible with MySQL, making migration easier.

Cons: The migration process to a distributed SQL database may need a thorough assessment rather than simply upgrading MySQL or moving to a fork. Although TiDB is MySQL-compatible, some MySQL-specific features may not be supported, and adjustments to existing application code may be required.

Enter TiDB: A MySQL-compatible, distributed SQL database

Imagine if you could leverage the familiarity of MySQL, while also obtaining the scalability and availability of a distributed database system? This is where TiDB comes in.

TiDB is an advanced, open-source, distributed SQL database developed by PingCAP. It seamlessly combines the best of both relational and NoSQL databases. It bridges ACID compliance and SQL compatibility—staples of traditional RDBMSs with horizontal scalability, a primary characteristic of NoSQL systems. 

Figure 1. TiDB’s architecture

Here’s a closer look at the major features that TiDB offers:

  • Horizontal Scalability: TiDB’s distributed architecture allows data to be automatically sharded across multiple nodes. As your workload grows, you can easily add more nodes to the cluster to handle the increasing demand, without experiencing a significant degradation in performance.
  • High Availability: TiDB maintains data redundancy by replicating it across multiple nodes. It also implements automatic failover. This ensures your data remains accessible even if one or more nodes in the cluster fail.
  • Strong Consistency: In many distributed databases, there’s a trade-off between consistency and availability. Not so with TiDB. It uses a distributed transaction protocol known as Percolator, which guarantees Snapshot Isolation consistency, ensuring that all nodes in the cluster have a consistent view of the data.
  • MySQL Compatibility: TiDB supports the MySQL protocol and has broad compatibility with MySQL syntax. This means that many existing applications, frameworks, and tools designed for MySQL can be used with TiDB.
  • Real-Time Analytics: TiDB leverages the power of Hybrid Transactional/Analytical Processing (HTAP) to enable real-time operational analytics. By effectively merging row-store for transactional workloads and column-store for analytical workloads, TiDB offers a unified platform for immediate and efficient analysis of operational data. 
  • Cloud-Native Architecture: TiDB is designed with cloud-native principles in mind, making it well-suited for deployment in cloud environments. It supports containerization technologies, such as Docker and Kubernetes. It also integrates with cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).


Choosing the right database technology is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your organization’s growth and success. With MySQL 5.7 EOL approaching, now is the time for MySQL users to evaluate their options and prepare for the future. If you’re facing the challenges of scalability, high availability, real-time analytics—or adapting to cloud-native architectures—the transition from MySQL to a distributed SQL database such as TiDB might be an ideal strategic move.

Migrating to a MySQL Alternative?

Read this white paper to learn 5 five key considerations for alternative product selection and expert recommendations.

However, it’s also important to recognize that MySQL and TiDB can coexist and work in synergy within the MySQL ecosystem. Many customers have already realized the benefits of using MySQL and TiDB, especially for large-scale applications. By leveraging TiDB alongside MySQL, businesses can unlock new levels of scalability, high availability, and mixed workload processing. This synergy allows for seamless data management and accommodates the evolving demands of modern applications. 

Ready to embark on your migration journey? Speak with one of our experts today to explore the power and potential of TiDB.

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