MySQL Blogs

Why You Need to Know What You Don’t Know

Author: Robert Agar

In the complicated world of database management, a lot of data needs to be assimilated by those responsible for keeping the systems healthy and operational. Management and the database team can be challenged trying to stay on top of all the moving parts required to keep things running smoothly. This task can prove to be quite difficult when faced with a large number of databases which may encompass several diverse platforms.

There are many different database products from which to choose. Some are more appropriate for particular uses which may play a role in your decision to go with one solution over another. Open-source databases are very popular, and MySQL has a large lead in the number of users it supports. It is the top-ranked open-source database in terms of popularity. When commercial and open-source databases are considered, only Oracle can boast of more worldwide users than MySQL.

These statistics indicate there is a very high probability that instances of MySQL are in your IT environment. As with any software application, certain aspects of the solution may be more prone to experiencing issues than others. Confirming that your team is aware of these potential pitfalls is the first step in minimizing their impact on your systems and business.

The Top Problems Faced by MySQL Database Administrators

Multiple factors can be at the heart of the performance degradation impacting your MySQL databases. Here are some of the most common causes that may need to be addressed as well as some specific areas and metrics to investigate if you want to increase the speed and functionality of your systems.

Inadequate MySQL’s hardware resources – The correct balance of physical resources are needed for your database to perform at its best. Memory, CPU, disk storage, and the network form the foundation on which your systems run. Improperly sizing these resources will leave your systems with little to no chance of achieving peak efficiency. All your optimization efforts will be in vain if your databases are starved for resources. Metrics concerning resources include availability, utilization, and saturation.

Slow and long-running queries – Queries that expend exorbitant amounts of system resources are a major cause of MySQL performance issues. Without sufficient visibility into the inner workings of your queries, you will be hard-pressed to determine which statements are causing the problems. Metrics which may help pinpoint the culprits include latency, index usage, and time spent waiting for locks. The ability to monitor these metrics can be invaluable in enabling you to optimize the queries that are bogging down your system.

Database design – A poorly designed database is destined to cause problems throughout its lifetime. While you may not be able to redesign the system from scratch, identifying the areas that impact performance is the key to mitigating the issues. The  particular areas of interest when attempting optimization should include:

  • Queries that exhibit poor table indexing that can lead to extensive memory usage and cause swapping.
  • Inefficient datatypes and character sets which can slow a database’s performance.
  • Poor configuration decisions that might not enable the database to take advantage of all of the underlying resources.
  • Faulty custom application coding which can result in a database more prone to fragmentation and therefore reduced performance.

Interference from other applications or processes – Scheduled processes designed to maintain your databases such as backups, synchronization, and application updates can cause degraded performance by consuming system resources. The same is true for third-party applications running on the same hardware as your databases. Finding the optimal time to run some of these processes that avoid peak usage times can alleviate some of the problems.

A Remedy for the Knowledge Gap

With all these potential issues lurking around the corner, your IT team and DBAs need a vehicle with which to increase the understanding of the current state of their systems. Without the proper knowledge regarding the possible causes of performance issues, it will prove to be extremely difficult to correct them. You need a way of finding out what you may not know about your databases and their environment in order to take proactive action to keep them performing at an acceptable level.

SQL Diagnostic Manager for MySQL addresses the inherent knowledge gap that can accrue over time when you are not monitoring your MySQL servers in a viable manner. The tool provides enhanced visibility into the health and performance of your database, which has proven to be very valuable to its users. Some of the features of this excellent monitoring application are:

  • The inclusion of over 600 monitors and advisors which continuously monitor the health of your MySQL servers and can generate alerts based on pre-defined thresholds.

  • The ability to quickly identify the queries that are spending the most time running on your systems.

  • Custom dashboards and charts to provide visualizations that enable the monitored data to be more easily understood.

SQL Diagnostic Manager helps you to know what you didn’t know previously regarding the reasons your databases are not performing at the level you expect. Wouldn’t you like to have that information before being bitten by missed SLAs or intensive user complaints? We all know the answer to that one. So get on it and close the knowledge gap with SQL Diagnostic Manager.