Build a network of MySQL-related resources -- and this goes beyond toolsets and troubleshooting guides. There are some extremely knowledgeable people lurking on mailing lists, forums, Q&A websites, and so on. Conferences, trade shows, and local user group events provide valuable opportunities for gaining insights and building relationships with peers who can help you in a pinch.
For those looking for tools to complement these tips, you can check out my MySQL configuration tool, Query Advisor tool, and Percona Monitoring Plugins. The configuration tool can help you generate a baseline my.cnf file for a new server that's superior to the sample files that ship with the server. The Query Advisor analyzes your SQL to help detect potentially bad patterns such as pagination queries (No. 7). Percona Monitoring is a set of monitoring and graphing plugins to help you save statistics eagerly and alert reluctantly (No. 8). All three are freely available.
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