Agile Environments and DBAs

Sheeri K. Cabral (Mozilla Foundation), Laine Campbell (Pythian)
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The focus of this session will be addressing the following issues:

The differences in agile environments that affect a DBA’s job requirements

Designing schemas for flexibility

Performing holistic testing of queries and schema changes

Creating an architecture and testing infrastructure so that databases can be frequently and safely updated

Integrating more effectively into the development process.

Some more information for the attendees:
The exact definition of “agile” is of course varied. However, it’s usually a time-based, quick-turnaround release schedule. This works well with web-based entities and similar server-based software environments. There are the usual challenges associated with being a DBA, but some of the particular ones are:

Architecture – this can change with every feature added, so it’s important to have flexible schemas – sometimes this means adding a separate table instead of ALTERing a current one.

Scaling and query optimization – usually a big problem, because things are happening so fast, and part of the QA cycle needs to be a mechanism to check queries. Otherwise, a release can be disastrous, and reverting is necessary. Masters and slaves are swapped often for changes that require a table to be offline, and archiving older data happens often (as does optimizing tables). Coming up with a good sharding technique is a big step as these environments grow, and we’ll discuss some good and bad sharding techniques.

Pacing – the pace can move quickly so there isn’t a lot of time to do it right, but also very little tolerance for “hacks” either. Laine and I will discuss strategies for how to get things working RIGHT and RIGHT NOW as is often the directive – sometimes the way to do something right is to change the code, and the developers are reluctant, so you have to make db changes first, and then ease into the code.

Advanced db features vs. simple queries — using views and stored procedures can be a blessing or a curse in an agile environment, it’s one of those “it’s an art, not a science” things. We will discuss some of our successes and failures using tons of simple queries, caching databases, memcached and advanced db features.

Photo of Sheeri K. Cabral

Sheeri K. Cabral

Mozilla Foundation

Sheeri K. Cabral has a master’s degree in computer science specializing in databases from Brandeis University. She has background as a systems administrator; has worked with Oracle, Sybase, DB2, Solaris, RedHat/Fedora, AIX, and HP-UX. Unstoppable as a volunteer and activist since age 14, Cabral founded and organizes the Boston, Massachusetts, USA, MySQL User group, and produces OurSQL: The MySQL Database Podcast for the Community, by the Community. Keep up with all this at www.technocation.org

Photo of Laine Campbell

Laine Campbell

Pythian

Owner of PalominoDB database consulting. Oracle and MySQL DBA, Architect and Designer for 9 years with such companies as Travelocity.com, Technorati and Viacom/MTV Networks.

Co-presented By:

O'Reilly Media MySQL/Sun Microsystems
  • Kickfire
  • Virident
  • Infobright, Inc
  • JasperSoft
  • Intel
  • Advanced Micro Devices
  • BIRT Exchange by Actuate
  • Calpont
  • Canonical
  • Continuent
  • Dolphin Interconnect Solutions
  • Facebook
  • HiT Software, Inc.
  • IBM
  • iDashboards
  • Oracle
  • Pentaho
  • R1Soft
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • SQLstream
  • Ticketmaster
  • Zmanda, Inc.
  • Linux Journal

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