August 08, 2012, 8:38 PM — As an open source company, Mozilla developers make a lot of different versions of software code each day, and part of Sheeri Cabral's job to keep track of them all: which ones work, which don't, how many times they've been downloaded, and which have a bug that needs to be fixed.
To do that, the makers of the Firefox browser have a MySQL database, the common open source structured database system, which organizes the information in a table format. A few months ago Cabral, who is a database administrator and architect for Mozilla and a MySQL community contributor, began running into issues as the database grew to over 100GB. "If that database doesn't work, the downloads aren't available," she says, emphasizing the importance of the database.
Typically the solution to such a problem is to throw more compute capacity at the server housing the database, or potentially switching from hard drive spinning disks to solid state drives, says Paul Burns, an analyst at Neovise. But Cabral found a different solution: Instead of having this one single database, Mozilla has in effect virtualized its database by splitting it up into a group of clusters, each holding a portion of the database. Using technology from a company named ScaleBase, now when a query is made the ScaleBase software identifies the cluster where the data is stored so that the entire database doesn't have to be searched. This speeds performance without adding additional hardware. "This is not an easy thing to do," Cabral says, "but they seem to have done it and it's working."
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