Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts. With headquarters in Rome and 74 country offices around the world, FAO provides the kind of behind-the-scenes assistance and sustainable solutions that help people and nations help themselves.
Key activities of the FAO include putting information within reach, sharing policy expertise, and bringing knowledge to the field. Over 200 database systems are used to collect, analyze and disseminate knowledge and data that aid development of the member countries.
Until now, almost all systems have been based on Oracle, but FAO recognized that the inclusion of open source software solutions could help the Organization better accomplish its mandate and objectives.
One of the key requirements for our technical information systems is that they must be very easily available and accessible by the member countries as well as easy to set-up and maintain.
said Kurt Vertucci, Senior Officer, IT Governance for FAO.
We cannot dictate to countries what their infrastructure should be. Therefore, in addition to requiring very flexible licensing, these systems need to be portable and based on open standards.
After evaluating PostgreSQL and MySQL as possible alternatives, FAO selected MySQL as its open source database standard.
With the release of MySQL 5.0 and its new features — including stored procedures, triggers and views — the reasons why we were looking at PostgreSQL no longer existed.
MySQL proved to be easier to set up, easier to manage and has become a widely-deployed standard in the developing countries, helping governments to achieve significant costs savings, without sacrificing database speed and power.
To help the FAO IT team to migrate and implement their new open source database, the MySQL professional services organization delivered a comprehensive mentoring program including training, consulting and workshops to enable the agency to learn best practices and to initially configure the systems according to their specific needs. FAO has also subscribed to the MySQL Network subscription offering, which includes certified software, production support and proactive advisor services. Vertucci explained,
MySQL is helping us to accomplish our mandate in terms of information dissemination and capacity building while achieving significant internal cost efficiencies. We are planning to migrate up to 80 percent of our Technical Information Systems to MySQL.
Richard Mason, MySQL AB’s vice president of EMEA, said,
We are delighted and proud to be able to help FAO to be more effective and do even more to address global hunger. Open source software like MySQL offers an opportunity for developing countries throughout the world to learn and take advantage of advanced IT technology at a fraction of the cost of traditional proprietary systems.