Performance problems can cripple mission-critical business apps. If you are lucky enough, your solution could be as easy as adding more WAN bandwidth, a few extra servers or a content delivery network, but the real problem arises when your database becomes your biggest bottleneck. When performance issues adversely impact the applications that keep your business operations running and revenue pumping in, the challenge is more difficult to overcome.
It can be painstaking, tedious work to examine the architecture for flaws, dive into code for clues on sluggish performance and scour log files looking for correlation events. Among all the areas to examine, the following three problem spots should be high on the list of troubleshooting priorities to remove performance issues:
- Connection Pooling Problems
- Below Par Query Performance
- Insufficient Concurrent Capacity for Handling Heavy Traffic
When database administrators (DBAs) fail to find and fix bottlenecks in time, businesses lose eyeballs and revenue—sometimes losing customers for life. Every transactional app accesses a relational database, and their biggest problem is the challenge of scaling horizontally. While modern databases support horizontal scale-out, today’s apps aren’t written to leverage this additional capacity.
An intermediate software layer, database load balancing software, solves this challenge; it makes the apps able to use additional servers without any code changes. It often includes caching as well, which can substantially increase performance—again, with no code changes. Database load balancing not only makes it easy to scale horizontally but also helps you identify other bottlenecks and mitigate them in a matter of minutes.
Database Load Balancing: The Silver Bullet?
Database load balancing software comes with analytics tools that precisely pinpoint database issues in real time. It monitors everything from every read and write query to connections, server performance and overall database load. Detailed analytics offer insights into what you need to fix and where to focus your attention to ensure better performance. A load balancer has all the necessary tools needed to resolve performance problems in a timely manner. It efficiently addresses the three major performance problems previously mentioned and significantly improves app performance and availability through:
- Connection Pooling and Multiplexing: Database load balancing software can drastically decrease the number of connections to your servers by applying connection pooling and multiplexing. Unlike client-based connection pooling, this approach ensures greater operational efficiency and facilitates easy handling of additional connection spikes.
- In-Memory Query Response Caching: The analytics of the software identifies potential queries to cache and lets you cache them with no application changes. For example, you can cache an article in a content management system (CMS) for a day, having the comments section pull from the database to stay fresh. You can cache a zip code table for months. Look for the ability to set time-to-live expiration or automatic cache invalidation so you can ensure atomicity, consistency, isolation, durability (ACID) compliance and transaction safety.
- Dynamic Load Balancing: Database load balancing software routes queries from the app to multiple servers in a safe and consistent manner. Its automated read/write split ensures high performance by diverting all the read queries to available read replicas and writes to the master server. This load distribution increases capacity and facilitates an instant scale-out. A load balancer acts like a single point of control that offers deep visibility into performance needs. With real-time insights into the root cause of problems, the entire find and fix process becomes fast, efficient and effective.
Saddled with the most difficult task of identifying database bottlenecks, DBAs can make their life easy and work efficient by leveraging a feature-rich database load balancer that automates the diagnosis of bottlenecks and gets the data flowing seamlessly.
About the Author / Tony Branson
Tony Branson is Database Load Balancing Senior Analyst at ScaleArc. Tony has a passion for dissecting tech topics such as transparent failover, centralized control, ACID compliance, database scalability and downtime effects. On his days off, he can be found watching sci-fi movies, rock climbing or volunteering. Follow him on Twitter.