Archive for the ‘Amazon Web Services’ Category

Another reason to avoid RDS

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

My list of reasons for never using or recommending Amazon’s MySQL RDS service grows every time I experience problems with customers. This was an interesting and still unresolved issue.

ERROR 126 (HY000): Incorrect key file for table '/rdsdbdata/tmp/#sql_5b7_1.MYI'; try to repair it

You may see this is a MyISAM table. The MySQL database is version 5.5, all InnoDB tables and is very small 100MB in total size.
What is happening is that MySQL is generating a temporary table, and this table is being written to disk. I am unable to change the code to improve the query causing this disk I/O.

What I can not understand and have no ability to diagnose is why this error occurs sometimes and generally when the database is under additional system load. With RDS you have no visibility of the server running the production database. While you have SQL access, an API for managing MySQL configuration options (I also add not all MySQL variables), and limited system statistics via a graphical interface, all information about the system performance, disk configuration etc is hidden and not accessible. This is a frustrating limitation of using RDS.

NOTE: While I cannot recommend RDS, I am very happy with AWS EC2 services when correctly configured. For a cloud based MySQL solution I would definitely recommend greater control over your MySQL database using EC2 and EBS.

Basic scalability principles to avert downtime

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

In the press in the last two days has been the reported outage of Amazon Web Services Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in just one North Virginia data center. This has affected many large website includes FourSquare, Hootsuite, Reddit and Quora. A detailed list can be found at ec2disabled.com.

For these popular websites was this avoidable? Absolutely.

Basic scalability principles if deployed in these systems architecture would have averted the significant downtime regardless of your development stack. While I work primarily in MySQL these principles are not new, nor are they complicated, however they are fundamental concepts in scalability that apply to any technology including the popular MongoDB that is being used by a number of affected sites.

Scalability 101 involves some simple basic rules. Here are just two that seem to have been ignored by many affected by this recent AWS EC2 outage.

  1. Never put all your eggs in one basket. If you rely on AWS completely, or you rely on just one availability zone that is putting all your eggs in one basket.
  2. Always keep your important data close to home. When it comes to what is most critical to your business you need access and control to your information. At 5am in the morning when the CEO asks how long will our business be unavailabla and what is needed to resolve the problem, the answer “We have no control over this and have no ETA” is not an acceptable answer.

With a successful implementation and appropriate data redundancy you may not have an environment immediately available however you have access to your important information and the ability to create one quickly. Many large hosting companies can provide additional H/W on near demand, especially if you have an initial minimal footprint. Indeed using Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a means to avert a data center disaster is an ideal implementation of Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS). Even with this issue, organizations that had planned for this type of outage could have easily migrated to another AWS availability zone that was unaffected.

Furthermore, system architecture to support various levels of data availability and scalability ensure you can handle many more various types of unavailability without significant system down time as recently seen. There are many different types of availability and unavailability, know what your definition of downtime is and supporting disasters should be your primary focus of scalability, not an after thought.

As an expert in performance and scalability I can help your organization in the design of a suitable architecture to support successful scalability and disaster. This is not rocket science however many organizations gamble without the expertise of a professional to ensure business viability.

Problems compiling MySQL 5.4

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Seem’s the year Sun had for improving MySQL, and with an entire new 5.4 branch the development team could not fix the autoconf and compile dependencies that has been in MySQL for all the years I’ve been compiling MySQL. Drizzle has got it right, thanks to the great work of Monty Taylor.

I’m working on the Wafflegrid AWS EC2 AMI’s for Matt Yonkovit and while compiling 5.1 was straight forward under Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid, compiling 5.4 was more complicated.

For MySQL 5.1 I needed only to do the following:

apt-get install -y build-essential
apt-get install libncurses5-dev
./configure
make
make install

For MySQL 5.4, I elected to use the BUILD scripts (based on Wafflegrid recommendations). That didn’t go far before I needed.

apt-get install -y automake libtool

You then have to go compiling MySQL 5.4 for 10+ minutes to get an abstract error, then you need to consider what dependencies may be missing.
I don’t like to do a blanket apt-get of a long list of proposed packages unless I know they are actually needed.

The error was:

make[1]: Entering directory `/src/mysql-5.4.0-beta/sql'
make[1]: warning: -jN forced in submake: disabling jobserver mode.
/bin/bash ../ylwrap sql_yacc.yy y.tab.c sql_yacc.cc y.tab.h sql_yacc.h y.output sql_yacc.output -- -d --verbose
make -j 6 gen_lex_hash
make[2]: Entering directory `/src/mysql-5.4.0-beta/sql'
rm -f mini_client_errors.c
/bin/ln -s ../libmysql/errmsg.c mini_client_errors.c
make[2]: warning: -jN forced in submake: disabling jobserver mode.
rm -f pack.c
../ylwrap: line 111: -d: command not found
/bin/ln -s ../sql-common/pack.c pack.c
....
make[1]: Leaving directory `/src/mysql-5.4.0-beta/sql'
make: *** [all-recursive] Error 1

What a lovely error ../ylwrap: line 111: -d: command not found

ylwrap is part of yacc, and by default in this instance it’s not even an installed package. I’ve compiled MySQL long enough that it requires yacc, and actually bison but to you think it would hurt if the configure told the user this.

It’s also been some time since I’ve compiled MySQL source, rather focusing on Drizzle. I had forgotten just how many compile warnings MySQL throws. Granted a warning is not an error, but you should not just ignore them in building a quality product.

Setting up MySQL on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Presentation

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

On Tuesday at the MySQL Camp 2009 in Santa Clara I presented Setting up MySQL on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

This presentation assumed you know nothing about AWS, and have no account. With Internet access via a Browser and a valid Credit Card, you can have your own running Web Server on the Internet in under 10 minutes, just point and click.

We also step into some more detail online click and point and supplied command line tools to demonstrate some more advanced usage.