Oracle recently announced a change in the versioning model for MySQL, introducing the MySQL Innovation and Long-Term Supported releases. The first innovation release is MySQL 8.1.0 , which includes InnoDB cluster read replicas.
The announcement marks a significant change in the MySQL release cycle. Until today, MySQL 8.0 followed a continuous delivery model with quarterly releases. While this approach allowed MySQL to introduce new features more frequently, it also presented challenges for projects and applications that needed only critical patches with fewer behavior changes.
Going forward, there will be separate Innovation and Long-Term Support (LTS) releases as explained by Kenny Gryp, MySQL product management director at Oracle, and Airton Lastori, MySQL product manager at Oracle:
MySQL database version 8.1.0 will be our first Innovation release, and 8.0.34+ will transition to only bug fixes until 8.0 End-Of-Life (EOL) scheduled for April-2026. Approximately one year from now, MySQL version 8.x will eventually become LTS which will provide ample time for users to migrate from 8.0.x to the 8.x LTS version.
Innovation releases will follow a similar model to MySQL 8.0 continuous development (< 8.0.34), incorporating bugfixes, security patches, and new features. According to Oracle, a new LTS version will be released every 2 years, and an 8.x LTS release is expected before the EOL of version 8.0. Gryp and Lastori add:
The current cadence goal is to have an Innovation release every quarter, incrementing the minor version number (eg. 8.2, 8.3, etc.). Innovation releases will also be Generally Available and are recommended to be used in production environments. Bugfixes and security patches will generally be included in the next Innovation or LTS release and not as part of a patch release within that Innovation release.
Among other changes, the new release introduces InnoDB Cluster Read Replicas, a new integrated solution for read scale-out, with router awareness. David Stokes, technology evangelist at Percona, comments:
I like the idea of the long-term support edition, as too many have been caught out on some of the tweaks in the quarterly releases. This should add stability to production environments and make life simpler for many. The announcement of 8.1 was long anticipated, and new features are always interesting and, hopefully, helpful. Seeing 8.0 becoming a bug-fix only for the next few years until the EOL date seems a little bittersweet.
While the status and the lack of information about MySQL 8.1/9.0 has been a long-term topic in the community, Michael Larabel, founder of Phoronix.com, instead highlights other changes that MySQL 8.1 introduces:
Among the additions with MySQL 8.1 is allowing the EXPLAIN FORMAT=JSON output to be used with an INTO option to allow the JSON-formatted EXPLAIN output to be stored into a user variable for use with MySQL JSON functions. Also on the JSON front, MySQL 8.1 also adds the SHOW PARSE_TREE statement for showing a JSON-formatted parse tree for a SELECT statement.
As adopters of the innovation releases will require more frequent updates for bugfixes and security patches, the MySQL team published an upgrade and downgrade support matrix, confirming that it will be possible to replicate from an LTS or Innovation release to the next LTS release and any Innovation release up until the next LTS release.
Both the new LTS and Innovation releases are already available on MySQL HeatWave.