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14.7.1 Description of the FEDERATED Storage Engine

When you create a FEDERATED table, the server creates a table format file in the database directory. The file begins with the table name and has an .frm extension. No other files are created, because the actual data is in a remote table. This differs from the way that storage engines for local tables work.

For local database tables, data files are local. For example, if you create a MyISAM table named users, the MyISAM handler creates a data file named users.MYD. A handler for local tables reads, inserts, deletes, and updates data in local data files, and rows are stored in a format particular to the handler. To read rows, the handler must parse data into columns. To write rows, column values must be converted to the row format used by the handler and written to the local data file.

With the MySQL FEDERATED storage engine, there are no local data files for a table (for example, there is no .MYD file). Instead, a remote database stores the data that normally would be in the table. The local server connects to a remote server, and uses the MySQL client API to read, delete, update, and insert data in the remote table. For example, data retrieval is initiated using a SELECT * FROM tbl_name SQL statement.

When a client issues an SQL statement that refers to a FEDERATED table, the flow of information between the local server (where the SQL statement is executed) and the remote server (where the data is physically stored) is as follows:

  1. The storage engine looks through each column that the FEDERATED table has and constructs an appropriate SQL statement that refers to the remote table.

  2. The statement is sent to the remote server using the MySQL client API.

  3. The remote server processes the statement and the local server retrieves any result that the statement produces (an affected-rows count or a result set).

  4. If the statement produces a result set, each column is converted to internal storage engine format that the FEDERATED engine expects and can use to display the result to the client that issued the original statement.

The local server communicates with the remote server using MySQL client C API functions. It invokes mysql_real_query() to send the statement. To read a result set, it uses mysql_store_result() and fetches rows one at a time using mysql_fetch_row().