A New Approach For Dealing with Complex Database Schemas

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Database administrators and developers often have to work with complex normalized schemas that make their systems slow and inefficient. In this presentation we’ll explore two classes of problems inherent to these systems and discuss an approach we’ve developed to solving them:

  • The first class involves complex reports that span data from multiple tables, with queries often including predicates and ordering on different tables. Current approaches to deal with these queries often involve denormalization of the related tables as well as replicating to increase capacity. Both solutions are hard to implement and maintain.
  • A second class assembles complex objects from a large set of tables. Current approaches denormalize the data and go as far as discarding the relational model altogether and adopting a blob based approach that leverages MySQL as a simple K/V store.

We’ll present use cases of both types and explore a solution we’re developing referred to as the “Orthogonal Architecture”:

  • A storage layer that eliminates most joins in the system by pre-joining the data without incurring denormalization costs. We will show how this approach greatly speeds up reporting queries, largely eliminating the cost of joins that otherwise impact these queries.
  • We implemented a natural object-API for this storage architecture that provides direct access to objects without join overhead. The advantages of this API are many, but include the ability to develop an application on relational data without the overhead of an object-relational mapping layer. Data can thus be accessed using both object API and SQL seamlessly.

In summary, this session will cover:

  • The impact of complex schema on overall system performance and scalability
  • Overview of available approaches to deal with these problems
  • An overview of our new approach, the Orthogonal Architecture
  • Accessing the Orthogonal Architecture through MySQL
  • Using the Object API and language bindings
  • A practical deployment scenario
  • A call for participation in this open source project
Photo of Ori Herrnstadt

Ori Herrnstadt


Ori Herrnstadt is Co-Founder and CTO at Akiban Technologies, Inc. He has been involved in developing large operational database systems since his days in the Israeli Army. After seeing the common problems between large-scale operational systems in the army, enterprise ERP and CRM systems and modern web applications, he started work on his Orthogonal Architecture in 2005. In 2009 he co-founded Akiban Technologies to accelerate the development of the technology.

  • EnterpriseDB
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Clustrix
  • Continuent
  • Facebook
  • HTI Consultoria e Tecnologia
  • Monty Program
  • Percona
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • SkySQL
  • Xeround

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