Protecting CFD (and making more money as a MySQL DBA)

No, this is not a blog about Computational Fluid Dynamics - my least favorite subject in college. This is about a more exciting (sorry mechanical engineers!) CFD: Customer Facing Data. This is the data that is typically available on the website of an organization that their customers interact with. CFD can range all the way from profiles of users on a social networking site such as Facebook to the customer information database of an e-commerce company such as Travelocity.

CFD represents today’s data protection challenge. Probably the biggest challenge while planning a backup solution for CFD is that it is very hard to figure out what to plan for. You might be starting with a very small database which might grow much more rapidly than what you think. If the data can be segmented based on users or some other characteristic, then you will find that your databases may scale-out instead of scale-up. Also, rate of change can be very rapid, sometimes with lots of small changes (e.g. tags) or sometimes with big data changes (e.g. addition of user generated media content), very similar to the rather unpredictable viral growth pattern of the Internet.

Many organizations are keen to save and analyze behavior of users as they interact with CFD. This metadata can itself pose a data protection challenge of its own, since it may change very rapidly, while the actual data is not changing (e.g. tracking of customer intelligence metadata about which prospects downloaded which whitepapers from your corporate website, so that you can determine the best marketing & sales approach for these prospects).

MySQL is the DBMS of choice for CFD. Some skeptical press and analysts have said a few times that MySQL is not being deployed at the back-end of the enterprise (financials, billing etc.), but only on the web-tier. The implicit (sometimes explicit) implication being that web-tier applications are less important for the organization. I think this analysis fails to realize the actual importance of the data being stored in web-tier applications. Most of this is CFD, loss of which will cause huge pain and costs in the form of lost revenues, customers and reputation.

From its very inception, Zmanda has been focused on technologies powering CFD (MySQL, LAMP stack, and now increasingly Solaris). We have dug deeper than anyone else in understanding the needs of protecting this crucial part of any organization and very rapidly delivered products to address these needs. We are the data protection company for CFD. While we do protect back-end applications and platforms, our technology and business focus remains CFD.

I will be talking about deploying radically simple backup solutions for CFD on Thursday (April 17th, 10AM) at the MySQL user conference. I am in the unenviable position of making a Backup presentation sound interesting after the Facebook keynote (”A Match Made in Heaven? The Social Graph and the Database”). Well, I guess the point that conference organizers are trying to make is that if you have a radically simple MySQL backup and recovery solution, you will have more time to spend on Facebook!

Speaking of analysts, I recently read an analyst report which indicates that, on average, salaries offered to MySQL DBAs can be up to 40% lower than those offered to Oracle or DB2 DBAs. This ironically is considered one of the barriers for entry of MySQL in some environments. Per this report: higher paid database personnel have vested interest to keep MySQL out. Another claim is that somehow the lower salary to MySQL DBAs reflects the relative importance of the MySQL powered application for the business. Well if you are a MySQL DBA, you will do well to make your management realize that you are the keeper of their Customer Facing Data. Any business deploys its best resources for customer facing activities. Hopefully this will start reflecting on your paycheck soon.

If you would like to talk about your data protection challenges, or your salary as a MySQL DBA, stop by our booth #307 at the MySQL user conference.

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