Open Insights 51 – Stretch Your Database Dollar

Open Insights Newsletter

Issue 51 – Stretch Your Database Dollar

  January 1, 2009

by Sean Hull

2009 is finally here.  Let’s put the struggles of 2008 and the last few months behind us, and take the downturn as an opportunity to dig in, work harder, and get creative in business. 

In This Issue:

1. Feature: Stretch Your Database Dollar

2. Current Reading

3. Podcast Reviews

4. Past Issues

5. Technical Articles

6. Audio Interviews

7. Lightweight Humor

8. About Heavyweight Internet Group

1. Feature: Stretch Your Database Dollar

I’ve taken to listening to some podcasts by the Financial Times of late.  A particularly good one which is very relevant to Information Technology is called Digital Business.  It’s a weekly show hosted by Peter Whitehead, Editor of’s Digital business section. 

The last episode of 2008 is one of particular interest, and I’d recommend it to readers of this newsletter.  In it  Whitehead discusses trends for 2009.  Obviously with the recent shift in markets and availability of credit 2009 will be a lot about stretching your budgets, and making your dollar go further. 

Interviewee Alan Kane suggests that virtualization and going green to save money will both be big trends in 2009.  Steven Pritchard emphasizes Software As A Service, Cloud Computing, and notably open source, will all be big in 2009.  It will also be a year for the public sector, with all the new government spending initiatives planned.  Finally, Whitehead adds that as web2.0 has ramped up it has opened a whole new category of vulnerabilities thus web2.0 security will become a new priority.  He also loves Twitter, and points to it’s recent explosive growth as a trend which will surely be significant in 2009.

Obviously we’ve been talking about open-source for years.  With the heady mix of flexibility, few licensing restrictions, and customizability, it has always appealed to the do-it-yourself side of the IT world.  But as IT managers look to optimise their budgets, I can definitely see how open-source will win even greater consideration. 

In fact anecdotally I’ve already seen an up tick in the number of companies calling us about MySQL in the fourth quarter of 2008.  MySQL has matured from the web-facing mini-database of five or ten years ago to a real force to be reckoned with.

MySQL for those new to the technology, started out as a lightweight, primarily web-facing database.  It’s limited feature set and transactional support posed little problem for the mostly read-only web-based applications it was designed for.  But as MySQL 4 came online, a transactional storage engine named InnoDB was added providing read-consistency, and recoverability of data.  In 5.0 more and more enterprise features have become available, including stored procedures, functions, views, subqueries, complex joins, as well as a whole host of sophisticated caching mechanisms to make data access even faster.  I now hear from clients supporting terabyte MySQL databases, using partitioning and other features previously only available in the more powerful commercial databases like Oracle. 

If I might add my own predictions of trends for 2009, I would reaffirm Pritchard’s forecast of growth in open-source adoption, as IT shops look to squeeze more out of their budgets.  In particular we expect MySQL to be a big part of this.  We’ve already seen shops moving some of their enterprise data to MySQL in an effort to gradually test the waters.  I firmly expect this trend to continue as IT staff & managers’ confidence in the

technology grows, and as familiarity with its strengths and weaknesses improves.  Awareness of where the technology can fit in well, what type of jobs it is well suited for, and how to roll it into the mix without disrupting services will be crucial.

For DBAs all this will mean beginning to look at the technology, and building test and sandbox environments.  For managers it will mean porting small and peripheral applications, testing for performance, reliability, benchmarking, and recoverability.  All of these will weigh heavier as you look at moving more core business functions onto the open-source database platform.

2. Current Reading

Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki

Some like irreverent writing, and some don’t.  Kawasaki’s subtitle is "the irreverent guide to outsmarting, outmanaging, and outmarketing your competition" sets the tone right out of the gates.  I find his writing to be smart and hardhitting, and very relevant.  This new book is no exception.  The Standard has a piece Five reasons why a recession is a good time to start a company.  I have to agree, and Kawasaki’s book will provide you with tons of cut-to-the chase, and get-the-job-done advice.  Highly recommended.

3. Podcast Reviews

I’ve been trolling through iTunes in the last few weeks, and have found some real gems.  With that in mind I decided to add a new section to the newsletter to focus on interesting, and technology relevant shows that I find.  By far the best one I’ve stumbled upon is Financial Times – Digital Business

For instance the September 10th episode of this year talked about Mesh Collaboration, Globalization, and Social Networking.  Definitely worth a listen.

You can read it online with updates almost everyday, and the print edition comes out on alternate wednesdays.  The podcast you can find here.

4. Past Issues

Issue 50 – Do Your Dishes

Issue 49 – Things Fall Apart

Issue 48 – Balancing Time & Money

Issue 47 – Change the Problem

Issue 46 – Interests Aligned

Issue 45 – Contractualities

Issue 44 – Gaining Legs

Newsletter Archives

5. Technical Articles

Intro to Oracle’s Automatic Workload Repository

Intro to PHP + Oracle

Useful PL/SQL Packages

Oracle Automatic Storage Management

Programming Perl + Oracle

6. Audio Interviews

Though we haven’t added a new audio interview in a while, we certainly plan to do some new interviews in the coming months.  So please stay tuned.  In the meantime, please listen to our past audio interviews.

In our last interview we had the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

We are hosting our podcast to Odeo.  It is a great service, and provides all the RSS and subscribe links automatically.  So please subscribe if you haven’t already.

7. Lightweight Humor

The Onion does it again, this time with "Apple Employee Fired for Thinking Different"

8. About Heavyweight Internet Group

We’ve always been about open-source technology, integration & mixing commercial technologies such as Oracle with open-source ones such as MySQL and Linux.  As open-source becomes mainstream, and more shops consider moving critical services to these technologies, we continue to provide assistance and expertise for these transitions.  Whether it is performance testing and tuning, benchmarking, high availability or recovery, we can provide services for your specific needs.

Looking for a top-flight DBA?  Visit us on the web at