How to Scale Your Database in the Cloud: Tech Talk from Our Friends at TheLadders

How TheLadders Achieved Cloud Scale

Last Thursday, I presented at the Clustrix NYC roadshow. Technical executives and leaders from two of the world’s largest database groups on Meetup, New York City’s MySQL and NewSQL groups, were treated to an in-depth presentation about our direct experience with Clustrix, a leading scale-out database. The event, hosted at our SoHo office, drew attendees from companies like SMBC Capital Markets, Getty Images, Pythian, Pixable, M-Square, and ACES.

Historically, databases were the bottleneck in any system, and in the web world, often the primary cause of website downtime and bad user experience. We wanted to keep the downtime as low as possible, so we looked for different ways to scale our database. We also wanted our developers to focus on adding value to our product, rather than spending time working on a database layer. The goal was to scale the system smoothly and economically as requirements increased. A new database system would be able to handle large numbers of concurrent users, provide continuous availability, and process extremely large data sets.

We had several options to scale our database: break it to smaller databases called shards, migrate to a simple key-value or a document store, buy a big iron database, or adopt a modern internet-scale database solution called NewSQL.

The term NewSQL was first introduced by The 451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett in a 2011 research paper discussing the rise of new database systems as challengers to established vendors.

“NewSQL is used to describe… new relational database products and services designed to bring the benefits of the relational model to distributed architectures, or to improve the performance of relational databases to the extent that horizontal scalability is no longer a necessity.”

– The 451 Group

TheLadders became one of the first adopters of NewSQL database technology, which is why I was invited to present at the Clustrix NYC Roadshow. I spoke about scalable database solutions, costs and benefits, comparison, selection, implementation process, and a little bit about the future of the NewSQL database market.

The presentation explained the rigorous evaluation and decision-making processes my team undertook to choose a scale-out primary database and captured the audience’s attention right away. Clearly, we understood how critical it was to put the right database solution in place to help power our business. And we left no stone unturned in our evaluation of alternatives. Several attendees mentioned that the depth and detail of the evaluation were highlights for them. The audience walked away with first-hand insight about the strengths and weaknesses of the many alternative products and approaches evaluated by my team.

Of course, what they ultimately wanted to know was why TheLadders chose Clustrix and what results we experienced. Several attendees took notes as I walked through the specific, detailed criteria and performance results that led to Clustrix as the clear choice. Wrapping up with details about the implementation process brought it all home for attendees, as there’s nothing like learning from real-world implementation experience.

Sergei Tsarev, Clustrix CTO and founder, followed up with an overview of the Clustrix solution, use cases, and architecture. He then closed the session with a live demo of Clustrix on Amazon Cloud (AWS), demonstrating the simplicity of starting up the Clustrix scale-out SQL database on AWS in 6 easy steps, and under 10 minutes.

As expected with the technical experts in the crowd, the Q&A session got fairly deep on the inner workings of Clustrix and how it has performed and evolved at TheLadders. The informal networking after the presentations prompted even more thought-provoking questions and insightful discussions.

Overall, it was a great event and the Clustrix team was grateful to TheLadders for hosting and presenting our story. Perhaps the clearest sign of the event’s impact was that multiple attendees stated that they were “convinced,” and wanted to start testing Clustrix right away. I think that speaks volumes to the clarity of the presentation and the credibility of the Clustrix database solution.


Read more about TheLadders’ customer success story.


About the Author:

Dmitri Mikhailov is the Principal Database Architect for TheLadders. Prior to TheLadders, Dmitri worked for Fortune Global 500 companies in Europe and the United States. He’s worked with big data for over two decades, designing and developing efficient solutions on every major database platform.


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