Jun
25
2019
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Percona Live Europe 2019 Call for Papers is Now Open!

The Call for Papers for Percona Live Europe 2019 is now open!  This year’s conference will be held September 30 – October 2, 2019 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Percona Live is the one conference for the entire open source database community, especially for MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and MariaDB. The theme of the 2019 conference is “Any Open Source Database, Any Platform, Any Time.”

Percona invites you to submit your speaking proposal for breakouts, tutorials, or lightning talks at any level of expertise, from beginner to expert.

  • Breakout Session – 50-minute talk (including Q&A).
  • Tutorial Session – In-depth training 3 or 6 hours long (including Q&A).
  • Lightning Talk – 10-minute talk on one key point.

Percona Live Europe will be organized around these six tracks:

  1. Performance & Scalability
  2. Public, Private, & Hybrid Clouds & Everything In Between
  3. Building Large, Scalable, & Secure DB Deployments
  4. Hot Topics, New Features, & Trends You Should Know About
  5. Monitor, Manage, & Maintain Databases At Scale
  6. How to Reduce Costs & Complexity with Open Source DBs

Talks should fall under one or more of these tracks and deal with topics such as using, deploying, or managing MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, MariaDB, or any other open source database.  Additional topics of particular interest  include monitoring, automation, migration, security, compliance, and Kubernetes.

The Call for Papers is open from June 25 – July 15, 2019.  To propose a talk visit https://www.percona.com/cfp.  Our full agenda will be announced in August at https://www.percona.com/live/amsterdam19. All speakers will receive a free full conference pass (except Lightning talks).

Oct
06
2017
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This Week in Data with Colin Charles 9: Oracle OpenWorld and Percona Live Europe Post Mortem

Colin Charles

Colin CharlesJoin Percona Chief Evangelist Colin Charles as he covers happenings, gives pointers and provides musings on the open source database community.

This week: a quick roundup of releases, a summary of my thoughts about Percona Live Europe 2017 Dublin, links to look at and upcoming appearances. Oracle OpenWorld happened in San Francisco this past week, and there were lots of MySQL talks there as well (and a good community reception). I have a bit on that as well (from afar).

Look for these updates on Planet MySQL.

Releases

Percona Live Europe 2017Percona Live Europe Dublin

I arrived on Sunday and chose to rest for my tutorial on Monday. Ronald Bradford and I delivered a tutorial on MySQL Security, and in the morning we chose to rehearse. Percona Live Europe had a full tutorial schedule this year, albeit with one cancellation: MySQL and Docker by Giuseppe Maxia, whom we missed this conference. Check out his blog for further posts about MySQL, Docker, and SQL Roles in MySQL 8!

We had the welcome reception at Sinott’s Bar. There was a large selection of food on each table, as well as two drinks for each of us. It was lively, and I think we overtook most of the basement. Later that evening, there were drinks around the hotel bar, as people started to stream in for Tuesday’s packed schedule!

Tuesday was the conference kickoff, with Peter Zaitsev doing the opening keynote on the state of the open source database ecosystem. The bonus of this keynote was also the short 5-minute talks that would help you get a pick on the important topics and themes around the conference. I heard good things about this from attendees. While most people attended the talks, I spent most of my day in meetings! Then the Community Dinner (thank you Oracle for sponsoring), where we held this year’s Lightning Talks (and plenty more to drink). A summary of the social events is at Percona Live Europe Social.

Wednesday morning we definitely wanted to start a few minutes later, considering people were streaming in slower thanks to the poor weather (yes, it rained all day). The State of the Dolphin ensured we found out lots of new things coming to MySQL 8.0 (exciting!), then the sponsor keynote by Continuent given by MC Brown, followed by a database reliability engineering panel with the authors of Database Reliability Engineering Charity Majors and Laine Campbell. Their book signing went quickly too – they have many fans. We also heard from Pepper Media on their happy journey with Percona. Another great day of talks before the evening reception (which had less folk, since people were flying off that evening). Feel free to also read Matthias Crauwels, Percona Live Europe 2017 Review.

Percona Live Europe 2017 Dublin had over 350+ attendees, over 140+ speakers – all in a new location! If you have any comments please feel free to shoot me an email.

Oracle Open WorldOracle OpenWorld from Afar

At this year’s Oracle OpenWorld there was talk about Oracle’s new self-driving, machine-learning based autonomous database. There was a focus on Amazon SLAs.

It’s unclear if this will also be what MySQL gets eventually, but we have in the MySQL world lossless semi-sync replication. Amazon RDS for MySQL is still DRBD based, and Google Cloud SQL does use semisync – but we need to check further if this is lossless semisync or not.

Folk like Panoply.io claim they can do autonomous self-driving databases, and have many platform integrations to boot. Anyone using this?

Nice to see a Percona contribution to remove InnoDB buffer pool mutex get accepted, and apparently it was done the right way. This is sustainable engineering: fix and contribute back upstream!

I was particularly interested in StorageTapper released by Uber to do real-time MySQL change data streaming and transformation. The slide deck is worth a read as well.

Booking.com also gave a talk. My real takeaway from this was about why MySQL is strong: “thousands of instances, a handful of DBAs.” Doug Henschen also talks about a lot of custom automation capabilities, the bonus of which is many are probably already open source. There are some good talks and slide decks to review.

It wouldn’t be complete without Dimitri Kravtchuk doing some performance smackdowns, and I highly recommend you read MySQL Performance: 2.1M QPS on 8.0-rc.

And for a little bit of fun: there was also an award given to Alexander Rubin for fixing MySQL#2: does not make toast. It’s quite common for open source projects to have such bugs, like the famous Ubuntu bug #1. I’ve seen Alexander demo this before, and if you want to read more check out his blog post from over a year ago: Fixing MySQL Bug#2: now MySQL makes toast! (Yes, it says April 1! but really, it was done!) Most recently it was done at Percona Live Santa Clara 2017.

Link List

Upcoming appearances

Percona’s website keeps track of community events, to see where to listen to a Perconian speak. My upcoming appearances are:

Feedback

I look forward to feedback/tips via e-mail at colin.charles@percona.com or on Twitter @bytebot.

Oct
04
2017
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Percona Live Europe Social

Percona Live Europe Social

One for the road…

Percona Live Europe 2017The social events at Percona Live Europe provide the community with more time to catch up with old friends and make new contacts. The formal sessions provided lots of opportunities for exchanging notes, experiences and ideas. Lunches and coffee breaks proved to be busy too. Even so, what’s better than chilling out over a beer or two (we were in Dublin after all) and enjoying the city nightlife in good company?

Percona Live Europe made it easy for us to get together each evening.  A welcome reception (after tutorials) at Sinnott’s Pub in the heart of the City hosted a lively crowd. The Community Dinner at the Mercantile Bar, another lively city center hostelry, was a sell-out. While our closing reception was held at the conference venue, which had proven to be an excellent base. 

Many delegates took the chance to enjoy the best of Dublin’s hospitality late into the night. It’s credit to their stamina – and the fantastic conference agenda – that opening keynotes on both Tuesday and Wednesday were very well attended.

In case you think we might have been prioritizing the Guinness, though, there was the little matter of the lightning talks at the Community Dinner. Seven community-minded generous souls gave up some of their valuable socializing time to share insights into matters open source. Thank you again to Renato Losio of Funambol, Anirban Rahut of Facebook, Federico Razzoli of Catawiki, Dana Van Aken of Carnegie Mellon University, Toshaan Bharvani of VanTosh, Balys Kriksciunas of Hostinger International and Vishal Loel of Lazada.

More about the lightning talks can be seen on the Percona Live Europe website.

Many of the conference treats – coffee, cakes, community dinner – are sponsored and thanks are due once more to our sponsors who helped make Percona Live Europe the worthwhile, enjoyable event that it was.

And so Percona Live Europe drew to a close. Delegates from 43 countries headed home armed with new knowledge, new ideas and new friends. I’ve put together to give a taste of the Percona Live social meetups in this video. Tempted to join us in 2018?

Sláinte!

Sep
29
2017
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This Week in Data with Colin Charles 8: Percona Live Europe 2017 Is a Wrap!

Colin Charles

Colin CharlesJoin Percona Chief Evangelist Colin Charles as he covers happenings, gives pointers and provides musings on the open source database community.

Percona Live Europe 2017

Percona Live Europe 2017 Dublin

We’ve spent a lot of time in the last few months organizing Percona Live Europe Dublin. I want to thank all the speakers, sponsors and attendees for helping us to pull off yet another great event. While we’ll provide some perspectives, thoughts and feedback soon, all the early mornings, jam-packed meetings and the 4 am bedtimes means I’ll probably talk about this event in my next column!

In the meantime, save the date for Percona Live Santa Clara, April 23-25 2018. The call for papers will open in October 2017.

Releases

Link List

Upcoming appearances

Percona’s website keeps track of community events, so check out where to listen to a Perconian speak. My upcoming appearances are:

Feedback

I look forward to feedback/tips via e-mail at colin.charles@percona.com or on Twitter @bytebot.

Sep
27
2017
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Percona Live Europe Session Interview: Spatial Data in MySQL 8.0 with Norvald Ryeng (Oracle)

Percona Live Europe Norvald

Percona Live Europe 2017Day one of the Percona Live Europe Conference was a huge hit. The first day of sessions went well. People spoke on many different open source database topics, and talks were well-attended.

One such talk I got to sit in was on Spatial Data in MySQL 8.0, given by Norvald Ryeng of Oracle.

MySQL 8.0 is still in development, but we already see a lot of improvement in GIS support. The latest development release comes with support for around 5000 different spatial reference systems, improved standard compliance and a lot of new functionality. How does it all work, and how can it be used to build applications? 

This talk started with the basics of GIS and spatial data in MySQL: geometries, data types, functions, storage and indexes. Then Norvald walked through a demo of how all the parts fit together to support a GIS web application. We also got a sneak peek into the future, including what to do right now to prepare for the upgrade to MySQL 8.0.

Whether you’re currently storing or planning to store spatial data in MySQL, this talk was for you. It covers the topics in a way that is accessible to both novices and more advanced GIS users.

After the talk, I had a chance to interview Norvald, and here is the video:

Sep
27
2017
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Percona Live Europe 2017 Keynotes Day 2

Black coffee was flowing this morning for day two Percona Live Europe 2017 Keynotes after many of the delegates had spent a good few hours the night before enjoying Irish hospitality at the Community Dinner.

So today Laurie Coffin, Chief Marketing Officer for Percona, introduced proceedings for day two and later also took to the stage for a Q&A session with authors Laine Campbell and Charity Majors. More on that later…

State of the Dolphin

Geir Høydalsvik, Development Director for MySQL at Oracle, delivers his keynote “State of the Dolphin”

Geir Høydalsvik, Development Director for MySQL at Oracle, delivers his keynote “State of the Dolphin”

First up Geir Høydalsvik, Development Director for MySQL at Oracle, delivered juicy tidbits of what to expect in MySQL 8.0 (beyond what you see in the current Developer Milestone Releases). He gave a comprehensive overview of plans and current developments to what had become an almost full house – despite the night before’s revelries.

Many Faces of Continuent Tungsten

M C Brown, VP Products at Continuent, delivers his keynote “Many Faces of Continuent Tungsten”

M C Brown, VP Products at Continuent, delivers his keynote “Many Faces of Continuent Tungsten”

MC Brown brought the conference up to date with the latest Tungsten developments, as well as some thoughts for the future. He described the wide-ranging deployments of Tungsten out in the field and his thoughts on how it might look going forward.

Database Reliability Engineering

Laine Campbell, Charity Majors are quizzed by Laurie Coffin

Laurie Coffin took to the stage to quiz Laine Campbell, Senior Director Production Engineering at OpsArtisan, and Charity Majors, CEO of Honeycomb Q&A about the newly released O’Reilly title: Database Reliability Engineering. The book focuses on designing and operating resilient database systems and uses open-source engines such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Cassandra as examples throughout.

Database Performance in High Traffic Environments

Pavel Genov, Head of Software Development at Pepper, delivers his keynote “Database Performance in High Traffic Environments”

Pepper.com is purposely different than other platforms that list daily deals. Around the clock, the community seeks and finds the best offers in fashion, electronics, traveling and much more. Pavel described how Pepper optimizes their database performance to make sure their web applications remain responsive and meet users’ expectations.

Sep
22
2017
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This Week in Data with Colin Charles #7: Percona Live Europe and Open Source Summit North America

Colin Charles

Colin CharlesJoin Percona Chief Evangelist Colin Charles as he covers happenings, gives pointers and provides musings on the open source database community.

Percona Live Europe 2017Percona Live Europe Dublin

Are you affected by the Ryanair flight cancellations? Have you made alternative arrangements? Have you registered for the community dinner? Even speakers have to register, so this is a separate ticket cost! There will be fun lightning talks in addition to food and drink.

You are, of course, already registered for Percona Live Europe Dublin, right? See you there! Don’t forget to pack a brolly, or a rain jacket (if this week’s weather is anything to go by).

Open Source Summit North America

Last week, a lot of open source folk were in Los Angeles, California for the annual Open Source Summit North America (formerly known as LinuxCon). I’ve been to many as a speaker, and have always loved going to the event (so save the date, in 2018 it is August 29-31 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada).

What were major themes this year? Containerization. Everyone (large and small) seem to be moving workloads into containers. Containers and stateful applications make things all the more interesting, as well as thoughts on performance. This is a big deal for us in the MySQL/MongoDB/other open source database space. Technologies to watch include: Docker/Moby, Kubernetes, and Mesos. These are technologies people are frankly already deploying on, and it looks like the on-ramp is coming. Videos to watch:

The cloud is still a big deal. Yes, people are all customers of Amazon Web Services. Sure they are looking at Microsoft Azure. Google Cloud Platform is – from my informal survey – the third most popular. In many instances, I had conversations about Oracle Cloud, and it looks like there is a huge push behind this (but not too many users that I’ve seen yet). So it’s still a bet on the future as it continues to be developed by engineers. A mention of Rackspace Cloud (which offers all the MySQL variants in the cloud) is good, but many large-scale shops haven’t thought about it.

There were also some “fun” keynotes:

I wish more events had this kind of diverse keynotes.

From a speaker standpoint, I enjoyed the speaker/sponsor dinner party (a great time to catch up with friends and meet new ones), as well as the t-shirt and speaker gift (wooden board). I had a great time at the attendee expo hall reception and the party at Paramount Studios (lots of fun catered things, like In-N-Out burgers!).

Releases

  • ProxySQL 1.4.3. Hot on the heels of 1.4.2 comes 1.4.3, nicknamed “The ClickHouse release.” Clients can connect to ProxySQL, and it will query a ClickHouse backend. Should be exciting for ClickHouse users. Don’t forget the SQLite support, too!
  • Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6.37-26.21
  • MariaDB ColumnStore 1.1.0 Beta. Do you use ColumnStore? Or do you use ClickHouse? There’s a new beta that might be worth trying.
  • MySQL 8.0.3 Release Candidate. Download this on your way to Percona Live Europe Dublin! Try it. There are many talks for this, including a keynote. You’ll find things like Histograms, more improvements around the optimizer, JSON and GIS improvements, security improvements, resource groups seem very interesting, data dictionary changes and a whole lot more!

Link List

  • CallidusCloud Acquires OrientDB, the Leading Multi-Model Database Technology
  • Database provider MongoDB has filed to go public. Bound to happen, and some highlights according to TechCrunch: “The company brought in $101.4 million in revenue in the most recent year ending January 31, and around $68 million in the first six months ending July 31 this year. In that same period, MongoDB burned through $86.7 million in the year ending January 31 and $45.8 million in the first six months ending July 31. MongoDB’s revenue is growing, and while its losses seem to be stable, they aren’t shrinking either. There have been over 30 million downloads of MongoDB community, and the link also has a nice cap table pie chart.”

Upcoming appearances

Percona’s website keeps track of community events, so check that out and see where to listen to a Perconian speak. My upcoming appearances are:

Feedback

I look forward to feedback/tips via e-mail at colin.charles@percona.com or on Twitter @bytebot.

Sep
21
2017
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Percona Live Europe Featured Talks: Modern sysbench – Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks with Alexey Kopytov

Percona Live Europe 2017

Percona Live EuropeWelcome to another post in our series of interview blogs for the upcoming Percona Live Europe 2017 in Dublin. This series highlights a number of talks that will be at the conference and gives a short preview of what attendees can expect to learn from the presenter.

This blog post is with Alexey Kopytov, sofware developer and maintainer of sysbench. His talk is Modern sysbench: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks. His presentation present new features provided by recent releases and explain how they can be used to create complex benchmark scenarios and collect performance metrics with a simple Lua API. It will also run a live demo of some of the new sysbench features.

In our conversation, we discussed benchmarking your database environment:

Percona: How did you get into database technology? What do you love about it?

Alexey: It was 2003, and I was working as a software developer for a boring company providing hosted VoIP solutions. I was a big fan of the free and open source software philosophy, which was way less popular back then than it is today. I contributed to a number of open source projects in my free time, but I also had a dream of developing open source software as part of my paid job. This looked completely unrealistic at the time, until I came across a job posting on a Russian IT forum about a Swedish company called MySQL AB looking for software developers to work remotely on MySQL! That sounded like my dream job, so I applied.

I knew very little about database internals at the time, so looking back I was giving terrible answers during my job interviews. Nevertheless, I joined the High Performance Group at MySQL AB after a few months, and that has defined my professional life for many years.

I love database technology because it presents the toughest challenges in software development. Most problems and solutions related to ever-evolving hardware, scalability and data processing requirements are discovered first by people from the database world.

Percona: Your talk is called “Modern sysbench: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks”. What is sysbench used for generally, why is it important and how have you used it in your career? 

Alexey: sysbench was an internal project that I took over as soon as I joined MySQL AB. We used it to troubleshoot customer issues, find performance bottlenecks in MySQL and evaluate new features. Of course it was an open source project, so over the years we’ve got many people from the MySQL community using sysbench for all kinds of performance research like testing new hardware, identifying performance-related issues and comparing MySQL configurations, versions and forks.

Percona: What are some of the important new developments in the latest release?

Alexey: This year sysbench got a major upgrade in terms of features and performance to meet the modern world of many-core CPUs, powerful storage devices and distributed database systems capable of processing millions of transactions per second. Some feature highlights from the latest release include simplified command-line interface, a revamped API which allows creating more complex benchmark scenarios with less code, new performance metrics, customizable reports and more!

Percona: What do you want attendees to take away from your session? Why should they attend?

Alexey: sysbench is quite popular, but most people rarely use it more than a few bundled OLTP-style benchmarks. I’d like to explain its full potential, especially the possibilities provided by the new features. I want people to use it to create their own benchmarks, not necessarily related to MySQL, and hopefully find sysbench useful in areas that I have not even envisioned myself.

Percona: What are you most looking forward to at Percona Live Europe 2017?

Alexey: For me Percona Live conferences have always been the place where I can feel the pulse of the technology and learn from the smartest people in the industry. This is especially true now that Percona Live provides talks on diverse topics from communities and database management technologies other than MySQL. Which makes it an even greater event to share ideas, solutions and expertise.

Want to find out more about Alexey, sysbench and database benchmarking? Register for Percona Live Europe 2017, and see his talk Modern sysbench: Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks. Register now to get the best price! Use discount code SeeMeSpeakPLE17 to get 10% off your registration.

Percona Live Open Source Database Conference Europe 2017 in Dublin is the premier European open source event for the data performance ecosystem. It is the place to be for the open source community as well as businesses that thrive in the MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, time series database, cloud, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) marketplaces. Attendees include DBAs, sysadmins, developers, architects, CTOs, CEOs, and vendors from around the world.

The Percona Live Open Source Database Conference Europe will be September 25-27, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin.

Sep
19
2017
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Percona Live Europe Featured Talks: Automatic Database Management System Tuning Through Large-Scale Machine Learning with Dana Van Aken

Percona Live Europe 2017

Percona Live EuropeWelcome to another post in our series of interview blogs for the upcoming Percona Live Europe 2017 in Dublin. This series highlights a number of talks that will be at the conference and gives a short preview of what attendees can expect to learn from the presenter.

This blog post is with Dana Van Aken, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Her talk is titled Automatic Database Management System Tuning Through Large-Scale Machine Learning. DBMSs are difficult to manage because they have hundreds of configuration “knobs” that control factors such as the amount of memory to use for caches and how often to write data to storage. Organizations often hire experts to help with tuning activities, but experts are prohibitively expensive for many. In this talk, Dana will present OtterTune, a new tool that can automatically find good settings for a DBMS’s configuration knobs. In our conversation, we discussed how machine learning helps DBAs manage DBMSs:

Percona: How did you get into database technology? What do you love about it?

Dana: I got involved with research as an undergrad and ended up working on a systems project with a few Ph.D. students. It turned out to be a fantastic experience and is what convinced me to go for my Ph.D. I visited potential universities and chatted with many faculty members. I met with my current advisor at Carnegie Mellon University, Andy Pavlo, for a half hour and left his office excited about databases and the research problems he was interested in. Three years later, I’m even more excited about databases and the progress we’ve made in developing smarter auto-tuning techniques.

Percona: You’re presenting a session called “Automatic Database Management System Tuning Through Large-Scale Machine Learning”. How does automation make DBAs life easier in a DBMS production environment?

Dana: The role of the DBA is becoming more challenging due to the advent of new technologies and increasing scalability requirements of data-intensive applications. Many DBAs are constantly having to adjust their responsibilities to manage more database servers or support new platforms to meet an organization’s needs as they change over time. Automation is critical for reducing the DBA’s workload to a manageable size so that they can focus on higher-value tasks. Many organizations now automate at least some of the repetitive tasks that were once DBA responsibilities: several have adopted public/private cloud-based services whereas others have built their own automated solutions internally.

The problem is that the tasks that have now become the biggest time sinks for DBAs are much harder to automate. For example, DBMSs have dozens of configuration options. Tuning them is an essential but tedious task for DBAs, because it’s a trial and error approach even for experts. What makes this task even more time-consuming is that the best configuration for one DBMS may not be the best for another. It depends on the application’s workload and the server’s hardware. Given this, successfully automating DBMS tuning is a big win for DBAs since it would streamline common configuration tasks and give DBAs more time to deal with other issues. This is why we’re working hard to develop smarter tuning techniques that are mature and practical enough to be used in a production environment.

Percona: What do you want attendees to take away from your session? Why should they attend?

Dana: I’ll be presenting OtterTune, a new tool that we’re developing at Carnegie Mellon University that can automatically find good settings for a DBMS’s configuration knobs. I’ll first discuss the practical aspects and limitations of the tool. Then I’ll move on to our machine learning (ML) pipeline. All of the ML algorithms that we use are popular techniques that have both practical and theoretical work backing their effectiveness. I’ll discuss each algorithm in our pipeline using concrete examples from MySQL to give better intuition about what we are doing. I will also go over the outputs from each stage (e.g., the configuration parameters that the algorithm find to be the most impactful on performance). I will then talk about lessons I learned along the way, and finally wrap up with some exciting performance results that show how OtterTune’s configurations compared to those created by top-notch DBAs!

My talk will be accessible to a general audience. You do not need a machine learning background to understand our research.

Percona: What are you most looking forward to at Percona Live Europe 2017?

Dana: This is my first Percona Live conference, and I’m excited about attending. I’m looking forward to talking with other developers and DBAs about the projects they’re working on and the challenges they’re facing and getting feedback on OtterTune and our ideas.

Want to find out more about Dana and machine learning for DBMS management? Register for Percona Live Europe 2017, and see his talk Automatic Database Management System Tuning Through Large-Scale Machine Learning. Register now to get the best price! Use discount code SeeMeSpeakPLE17 to get 10% off your registration.

Percona Live Open Source Database Conference Europe 2017 in Dublin is the premier European open source event for the data performance ecosystem. It is the place to be for the open source community as well as businesses that thrive in the MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, time series database, cloud, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) marketplaces. Attendees include DBAs, sysadmins, developers, architects, CTOs, CEOs, and vendors from around the world.

The Percona Live Open Source Database Conference Europe will be September 25-27, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin.

Sep
18
2017
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Percona Live Europe Featured Talks: Debugging with Logs (and Other Events) Featuring Charity Majors

Percona Live Europe 2017

Percona Live EuropeWelcome to another post in our series of interview blogs for the upcoming Percona Live Europe 2017 in Dublin. This series highlights a number of talks that will be at the conference and gives a short preview of what attendees can expect to learn from the presenter.

This blog post is with Charity Majors, CEO/Cofounder of Honeycomb. Her talk is Debugging with Logs (and Other Events). Her presentation covers some of the lessons every engineer should know (and often learns the hard way): why good logging solutions are so expensive, why treating your logs as strings can be costly and dangerous, how logs can impact code efficiency and add/fix/change race conditions in your code. In our conversation, we discussed debugging your database environment:

Percona: How did you get into database technology? What do you love about it?

Charity: Oh dear, I don’t. I hate databases. Data is the scariest, hardest part of computing. The stakes are highest and the mistakes the most permanent. Data is where you can kill any company with the smallest number of errors. That’s why I always end up in charge of the databases – I just don’t trust anybody else with the power. (Also, I’m an adrenaline junkie who gets off on high stakes. I could gamble or I could do databases, and I know too much math to gamble.) Literally, nobody loves databases. If they tell you anything different, they are either lying to you or they’re nowhere near production.

I got into databases from operations. I’ve been on call since I was 17, over half my life. I am really stubborn, have an inflated sense of my own importance and like solving problems, so operations was a natural fit. I started diving on the databases grenades when I worked at Linden Lab and MySQL was repeatedly killing us. It seemed impossible, so I volunteered to own it. I’ve been doing that ever since.

Percona: You’re presenting a session called “Debugging with Logs (and Other Events)”. What is the importance of logs for databases and DBAs?

Charity: I mean, it’s not really about logs. I might change my title. It’s about understanding WTF is going on. Logs are one way of extracting events in a format that humans can understand. My startup is all about “what’s happening right now; what’s just happened?” Which is something we are pretty terrible at as an industry. Databases are just another big complex piece of software, and the only reason we have DBAs is because the tooling has historically been so bad that you had to specialize in this piece of software as your entire career.

The tooling is getting better. With the right tools, you don’t have to skulk around like a detective trying to model and predict what might be happening, as though it were a living organism. You can simply sum up the lock time being held, and show what actor is holding it. It’s extremely important that we move away from random samples and pre-aggregated metrics, toward dynamic sampling and rich events. That’s the only way you will ever truly understand what is happening under the hood in your database. That’s part of what my company was built to do.

Percona: How can logging be used in debugging to track down database issues? Can logging affect performance?

Charity: Of course logging can affect performance. For any high traffic website, you should really capture your logs (events) by streaming tcpdump over the wire. Most people know how to do only one thing with db logs: look for slow queries. But those slow queries can be actively misleading! A classic example is when somebody says “this query is getting slow” and they look at source control and the query hasn’t been modified in years. The query is getting slower either because the data volume is growing (or data shape is changing), or because reads can yield but writes can’t, and the write volume has grown to the point where reads are spending all their time waiting on the lock.

Yep, most db logs are terrible.

Percona: What do you want attendees to take away from your session? Why should they attend?

Charity: Lots of cynicism. Everything in computers is terrible, but especially so with data. Everything is a tradeoff, all you can hope to do is be aware of the tradeoffs you are making, and what costs you are incurring whenever you solve a given problem. Also, I hope people come away trembling at the thought of adding any more strings of logs to production. Structure your logs, people! Grep is not the answer to every single question! It’s 2017, nearly 2018, and unstructured logs do not belong anywhere near production.

Percona: What are you most looking forward to at Percona Live Europe 2017?

Charity: My coauthor Laine and I are going to be signing copies of our book Database Reliability Engineering and giving a short keynote on the changes in our field. I love the db community, miss seeing Mark Callaghan and all my friends from the MongoDB and MySQL world, and cannot wait to laugh at them while they cry into their whiskey about locks or concurrency or other similar nonsense. Yay!

Want to find out more about Charity and database debugging? Register for Percona Live Europe 2017, and see her talk Debugging with Logs (and Other Events). Register now to get the best price! Use discount code SeeMeSpeakPLE17 to get 10% off your registration.

Percona Live Open Source Database Conference Europe 2017 in Dublin is the premier European open source event for the data performance ecosystem. It is the place to be for the open source community as well as businesses that thrive in the MySQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, time series database, cloud, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) marketplaces. Attendees include DBAs, sysadmins, developers, architects, CTOs, CEOs, and vendors from around the world.

The Percona Live Open Source Database Conference Europe will be September 25-27, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin.

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