Packing for MySQL Conference 2009

Yay, coming to Santa Clara again (4th conference in a row!:). I can’t imagine my year without MySQL Conference trip anymore. To get a free ticket I’ll present on two topics, MySQL Security (lately I have related role, and have prepared bunch of information already) and deep-inspecting MySQL with DTrace (a voodoo session for all happy Solaris and MacOSX users :). See you there?

Velocity: Clouds!

This early morning I’ll start making a betting pool, if there will be a Velocity presentation that won’t mention ‘clouds’. While most of people enjoy the idea of clouds, thats actually where snow, hail, thunderstorms, and acid rain comes from. This industry needs better metaphors.

Update: Though I failed to mention a word cloud on my talk (I guess I was entirely alone in whole conference in that regard), it still made it to Slashdot.

Also, we already replaced ‘Wikimedia Grid’ with ‘Wikimedia Cloud’ on Ganglia.

Wikipedia at Velocity conference

Next Monday I’ll be presenting (if jetlag doesn’t kill me) at Velocity 2008 – webops and performance conference. It won’t be my first time talking about Wikipedia infrastructure, but this time people will know the technology and scaling methods anyway.

As I see it, in such context Wikipedia is more interesting as a case of operations underdog – non-profit lean budgets, brave approaches in infrastructure, conservative feature development, and lots of cheating and cheap tricks (caching! caching! caching!).

Also, I’ll be able to share (making audience jealous) how it is great to be on non-profit ops team (and one of example perks – we can be cheap about getting conference passes too ;-)

The best part (for audience, not for me) – I will be forced to be honest. Nearly whole tech team will be at the event, and if I fail to attribute any developments, or start talking crap – not only they can throw rotten tomatoes, but also disable my login access and claim they never knew me, without me being able to fight back :) I didn’t publicly present in front of these guys since 2005 – will be tough.

Speaking at MySQL Conference again, twice

Yay, coming this year to the MySQL conference again. This time with two different talks (second got approved just few days ago) on two distinct quite generic topics:

  • Practical MySQL for web applications
  • Practical character sets

The abstracts were submitted weeks apart, so the ‘practical’ being in both is something completely accidental :) Still, I’ll try to cover problems met and solutions used in various environments and practices – both as support engineer in MySQL, as well as engineer working on wikipedia bits.

Coming to US and talking about character sets should be interesting experience. Though most English-speaking people can stick to ASCII and be happy, current attempts to produce multilingual applications lead to various unexpected performance, security and usability problems.

And of course, web applications end up introducing quite new model of managing data environments, by introducing new set of rules, and throwing away traditional OLTP approaches. It is easy to slap another label on these, call it OLRP – on-line response processing. It needs preparing data for reads more than for writes (though balance has to be maintained). It needs digesting data for immediate responses. It needs lightweight (and lightning) accesses to do the minimum work. Thats where MySQL fits nicely, if used properly.

Conference notes

Cool ideas from the conference:

  1. Having same binary logs with same positions on slaves as on masters. This allows switching the database master a DNS-change (or IP takeover) operation. — Google
  2. Reading replication logs and prefetching data in parallel on slaves before replication events get executed. This way data is preheated for upcoming changes and serial updating thread works much faster. Especially useful on slightly delayed slaves. — Youtube
  3. For generating unique IDs for distributed environment use separate set of servers, without any replication, but with auto-increment offsets. This can be separate from core database and quite efficient. — Flickr
  4. Let’s get some beer. — Colleagues at MySQL AB

One of core messages I was trying to spread was “Relax. World is not going to end in case you lose a transaction.” I’m not sure how cool it was, but some nice folks out there said it was expiring. In many cases running a project has to be fun first, and most motivating targets should be the priority.
There still were ideas that had counter-arguments (of course, every situation may have different needs). One of discussions I bumped into was about using big services Out There (such as Amazon S3) instead of building your own datacenters – I didn’t end up convinced, but of course it is interesting to investigate if really costs can be lower.
Some more notes:

  • At the Flickr presentation there was someone asking why is Flickr using Yahoo’s search backend instead of rolling out anything Lucene-based. Lucene seemed to be the buzzword always in the air – though I had nice conversations with Sphinx developer too. Still, if I’d be commercial entity owned by Yahoo, I’d really reuse top-notch technology developed in other Y! departments, rather than use open source project, created by… Yahoo’s employee in free time.
  • Every time I heard someone was using NetApp Filers, I cried. Probably it is very good technology, but last time I checked prices, it was quite expensive… And someone mentioned it becomes slightly pain to ensure all the business continuity.
  • Open Source Systems were demonstrating pretty cool (literally too) dual-motherboard servers – promised lower prices and much lower energy consumption. Interesting.
  • Dolphin interconnect people said 10g-ethernet is not solving the network delay problem, and they’ll live for a while.
  • HP people were showcasing blade technology, though they avoided filling the enclosure with blades and loading them – would be quite a noise generator in the expo hall. We did discuss the unfair listprices by major hardware vendors – industry sucks at this place.
  • Heikki joked, people laughed, even few times. At the ‘clash of DB gurus’ Heikki mentioned he’d like to see Wikipedia still running on InnoDB after 20 years. It made me wonder what kind of data architectures will people use in 20 years.
  • Nobody solved the speed of light problem yet.
  • .org pavillion showcased the core products out there, especially in web publishing (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla), and workflow (Eventum, OTRS, Bugzilla, dotproject).
  • All scaling talks generally choose standard solutions and spend engineering on them. Didn’t see anything breathtaking, but of course, that may be still hidden part of technology.
  • I’d like to come back next year again. Again.