Monday, October 12, 2009

MySQL and Why You Need It

What’s MySQL and Why Do I Need It?

Put Your Site’s Data To Work For You

Even the smallest on-line business quickly collects data. Lots of it. Customer data – names, mailing addresses, email addresses, credit card information and other consumer information.

Then, there’s inventory data – what’s on the shelves, how much are you selling, when do you need to reorder, product specs – you get the idea.

Affiliate data, order and shipping info, PPC data – the facts and figures come fast and furious the minute your site goes live. And keeping straight these data records isn’t something you want to do with a pencil and paper.

What you need is an RDBMS.

A what? A relational database management system or RDBMS. It’s basically a really smart, intuitive database that enables you to manipulate, access and store data in lots of useful ways. Now you can go out and spend a bundle on RDBMS software, but you don’t have to. In fact, you can get the industry standard relational database software as an open source application. That means it’s free – always a good thing.

MySQL is a database the enables you to use and deploy specific data quickly through a variety of search and sort options. SQL stands for structured query language – a simple programming language that opens your database to more uses and better analytics without you having to learn a bunch of code. So, for example, if you wanted to conduct a search of all customer information from a particular zip code, a few clicks and all of your buyer information for that particular area is accessed and presented (quickly) on your computer screen.

Add some additional filters, like cutomers from that zip code who spent more than $200 and you’re on your way to developing the “Golden Mailing List” so prized in marketing and promotion.


MySQL is open source, though there are restrictions on its use. However, for start-ups and even mid-sized online businesses, use restrictions aren’t a concern.

MySQL has become the most popular database within the realm of ecommerce for several solid reasons:

It’s free. (Best reason of all.)

It’s fast. (That’s always nice.)

It’s easy to install. (No, it really is.)

It runs on Linux and many other popular server platforms. (Important.)

It adapts well to HTML, the standard for site construction. (Essential.)

It works well with all popular Web server software, e.g. Apache. (Nice.)

When partnered with PHP, you can accomplish marketing miracles. MySQL and PHP make for a powerful combo – even for small commercial sites with a keen eye on rapid growth.

What’s PHP?

PHP stands for “PHP hypertext preprocessor” (sort of). Simply put, PHP is a server side scripting language. Like MySQL, PHP is open source (free). It’s highly intuitive, easy to learn and it dovetails with all HTML coding.

Server side scripting simply means that the PHP scripting is processed by your web host server rather than on your biz-system desktop. The server manipulates PHP scripting and delivers simple HTML scripting back to a visitor’s browser, eliminating all compatibility issues.

With the MySQL-PHP, one-two punch, you can streamline everything from order taking to marketing to data harvesting. You can collect data entered into online forms by visitors. This data is then automatically correlated into the powerful MySQL database. 24 caret marketing gold.

Using MySQL and PHP in tandem, you can create dynamic page content – content targeted at a specific visitor based on that visitor’s past purchase history. Think and its personalized approach to selling you more stuff. Amazon knows what you like and generates dynamic pages customized to your tastes. Of course, with a company that size it’s got one, big, honkin’ database.

MySQL enables you to send and receive cookies to improve your site’s performance for repeat visitors – even if the visitors haven’t “officially” registered at your site.

MySQL and PHP are both cross-platform applications. This allows you to create in Windows and deliver content through a Unix-based server. (Ask your web host if your sever is Unix-based.).

PHP also delivers a stack of other cool features. Visitor and credit card authentication, for example, are a snap when PHP is combined with the data stored in your MySQL d-base. Customizable pdf development is another cool feature, enabling you to create totally dynamic content in pdf format.

You might not need it today, but you will tomorrow.

If you’re just testing the waters, MySQL may not be critical to your venture. You can get by using MS Access, Informix, Sybase, Oracle and other data manipulation software. However, as your business grows, you may quickly discover that transferring data from one of these d-base packs to MySQL is somewhat of a headache.

And, since both MySQL and PHP are free and totally symbiotic, it makes sense to start with an RDBMS that is fully scaleable – growing right along with your bottom line.

Is your site data-driven?

Any commercial site is data driven. Info on products, orders, shipping and so on. But many non-commercial sites also hold and deliver heaps of information to visitors. Government sites, educational institutions, NFPs, survey sites and the like will also benefit from the power-packed MySQL, especially when coupled with the expansive features offered by PHP server side scripting.

Need a little help with your d-base design? All this stuff is free so drop me a line or call me. Use your site to collect marketing data and really grow BIG. FAST.


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