Challenges of Scaling MySQL
E-commerce is the practice of selling or buying goods and transmitting data or funds over the internet. It is getting quite popular these days with more and more consumers choosing to shop from the comfort of their homes, at any time they want. A lot of e-commerce websites are built using MySQL databases due to the benefits it offers. However, in this article, we will talk about the limitations and challenges MySQL database poses.
Speed Bumps in a MySQL E-commerce Environment
MySQL has the ability to handle a decent amount of traffic as the business expands, however, when the database realizes maximum capacity, the e-commerce website will not work as efficiently as you want. This is because MySQL faces some difficulties and has limitations in handling a few things, such as the following:
- Increased Availability: MySQL has a single point of failure at the master server. This means that if the master server goes down, then there will be downtime. When this happens, your customers will not be able to purchase anything from your e-commerce site and when the downtime lasts too long, they will get frustrated and will eventually take the business to some other place, even permanently in some cases. This directly translates to a loss in money for your business.
- Increasing Reads and Writes: MySQL has limitations on capacity, i.e., if more and more customers carry out complete transactions on your website, it won’t take long before the database stalls. It is true that MySQL can scale reads through read-slaves, however, at the same time the applications have to be aware that the reads are not synchronized with the write master. For example, if a customer updates products in his e-cart, it better be read from the write-master otherwise there will be a risk of having the wrong available-to-promise quantities. This will create a bottleneck in the checkout line, which will undoubtedly result in abandoned carts, unmanaged and unsold inventory, selling inventory you don’t have, refunds, negative social media exposure or worse — unhappy customers who might not come back.
- Flexing Up and Down: MySQL writes are not scalable via slaves, which means that you can accommodate an increase in traffic by paying a premium and scaling up. Unfortunately, MySQL does not have the ability to flex up and down in order to benefit your e-commerce business.
Tackling When it Reaches its Limit
There will come a time when MySQL will reach its limit causing your e-commerce website to stall. When your write master has been scaled, you must consider the following techniques:
- Re-platforming: This technique involves moving the database from one platform to the other. For example, you can move Magento/MySQL to an Oracle-based platform.
- Sharding: In this, you partition the database across multiple different servers. This helps in improving the performance of MySQL even though it presents various shortcomings.
These techniques do enhance the performance of MySQL, however, they are quite complex processes and are costly to implement. Although, they are not your only options to fall back on.
Maintaining the Database
In order to scale MySQL successfully, you have to employ knowledgeable database administrators who know how the relational database management system works. They must know how to promote slaves to masters and be completely equipped with the knowledge of synchronization and replication. Furthermore, they must be able to handle multiple servers and work cohesively with application architects and developers.
Scaling – A Tough Road Ahead
Scaling is possible but remember that it is not an easy task. If you want to scale MySQL and make sure that your database is capable of handling more transactions without any problem, you must keep in mind that you will be limited by the size of your ‘write-master’ server. Once the server box is the largest available, you will have fewer options left, one of which is ‘read slaves’ which separates the servers which off-load ‘read-only’ server requests to separate servers running copies of the main database.
With database load balancing software, you can achieve transparency between your eCommerce app and your SQL database.
About the Author: Tony Branson, Database Load Balancing Senior Analyst, ScaleArc – A self-proclaimed tech geek, with a passion for ScaleArc’s disruptive technology innovation in database load balancing, the author has a passion for dissecting tech topics such as transparent failover, centralized control, ACID compliance, database scalability and downtime effects.