YACR! (Yet Another Conference Review!)

Apr 17, 2012 / By Ben Mildren

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The journey to the Hotel in Santa Clara took me something like 16 hours. It was long, arduous, and at times despairing, but was it worth it? Absolutely! I made the epic journey with my Pythian (and former Nokia) colleague Andrew Moore, and once at the conference we met up with more members of our Pythian MySQL team: Marco Tusa, Raj Thukral, and Singer Wang. We all ran into former colleagues at the conference, caught up with old friends, and made some new friends. The conference this year was buzzing with enthusiasm, learning, and creativity. I’m delighted to say it delivered everything I anticipated and more.


For me, the conference schedule started on the Tuesday morning I presented a tutorial with Henrik Ingo entitled “How to evaluate which MySQL High Availability solution best suits you”. It was the first time I’d presented, and I admit I was feeling rather nervous. However, Henrik is a seasoned speaker and was quick to make me feel at ease once the tutorial began. Fast forward 3 hours, and the presentation had been delivered. We had some positive feedback via Twitter, which was nice. The thought of getting up and speaking in front of a group of people isn’t second nature to me; however, having done it once, I can honestly say it was a great experience. I will certainly submit other talks and actively encourage others to do the same.

Later that day, I attended a tutorial myself. It was “Linux and H/W optimizations for MySQL” by Yoshinori Matsunobu. This is a presentation I’d been meaning to catch for a while, and as expected it contained a wealth of observations and recommendations that I’ll be digesting for weeks! Later that night was the Pythian Community Dinner at Pedro’s, an excellent end to the day with good food, drink, and conversation.

The following conference day started with the key note speeches from Peter & Baron, Marten Mickos, and Brian Aker. The general theme here was the evolution of MySQL and cloud solutions; however, this theme lasted pretty much until the end of the keynotes, and the actual theme for the conference was in fact “We’re hiring!!” The message board was packed with job advertisements. Several exhibition stands and sponsors were there purely with the intention of hiring new staff, and most sessions finished with a “We’re hiring!” note.

It was a fascinating situation. Certainly, here in the UK, it’s been easy to tell that there has been a shortage of MySQL talent for some time. Now, it’s obvious that this isn’t a local issue. It’ll be interesting to see what affect this has on the industry, and if this will drive even more companies to opt for services like Pythian’s Remote DBA support to augment their teams, a.k.a DaaS – DBA’s as a Service :-). By the way, we’re hiring here at Pythian!

All the sessions I attended were of a high quality, and I heard the same feedback about many others. For me, the pick of the sessions I attended were coincidentally the first two sessions I attended: Patrick Crews’ (Percona) session on “Testing MySQL Databases: The State Of The Art”, and Sarah Sproehnle’s (Cloudera) session on “Hadoop for MySQL DBAs”. Both introduced me to tools and technologies I haven’t used before, and as is true with all good talks, they inspired me to investigate the tools and technology further. I’ll certainly be looking into hdfs, sqoop, and hive in more detail, as well as kewpie. I anticipate they will be appearing as future subjects of focus in my blog.

Other worthy mentions go to the sessions on Tungsten Replicator by Continuent, as well as the Galera/Percona XtraDB Cluster sessions I attended – Galera does have an exciting solution and one I, like many others, feel has a very strong future. I also felt that the sessions by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc., were interesting, allowing a view of how they’re coping with the challenges of huge scale, especially given my past at Nokia.

Sessions by my colleagues were well received. Marco gave a talk on migrating from Oracle to MySQL, Raj a talk on scaling MySQL based on an actual Pythian use case, Singer a talk on MySQL Security, and all the while, Andrew was measuring his tweet frequency on a per second scale as @mysqlboy. The conference was further enhanced by the quality of stands in the exhibition hall. I had interesting chats with the guys at the TokuTek and Infobright stands, and was lucky enough to win one of the Remote Control Helicopters from the CouchDB stand. The lightening talks were fun, the Birds of a Feather sessions useful, and the Community Awards deserved. All in all, this was a great conference, both in terms of organization and content.

Additional kudos goes to the post-conference SkySQL & MariaDB: Solutions Day that I attended, which included a fun and informative discussion between Monty and David Axmark moderated by Kaj Arno, and more information from Sergei Golubchik, Rasmus Johansson, and Colin Charles on the MariaDB 5.3 and 5.5 releases. For me, the thought of using MariaDB is becoming even more viable, and I’ll be especially interested in seeing the agility of future releases in comparison to MySQL 5.6. I also attended interesting sessions on MySQL MHA by Yoshinori Matsunobu, ScaleDB, Tungsten Replicator, and MySQL Cluster by Severalnines. This was followed by drinks, pretzels, and the famous black vodka!

Percona has already announced they will be running the Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo in Santa Clara again in April 2013, and if this years conference was anything to go by it’s going to be another cracker – well done to everyone involved! To tide me over until next year, I’m also looking forward to the Percona Live London event later in the year and am already thinking of sessions I can submit!

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