Tuesday Apr 30, 2013

Big Fish Selects MySQL Cluster for Real-Time Web Recommendations

The world's largest producer of casual games has selected MySQL Cluster to power its real-time recommendations platform.

High velocity data ingestion, low latency reads, on-line scaling and the operational simplicity delivered by MySQL Cluster has enabled Big Fish to increase customer engagement and deliver targeted marketing, providing a more personalized experience to its users.

You can read the full Big Fish Games and MySQL Cluster case study here - and a summary below

BUSINESS NEED

The global video gaming market is experiencing explosive growth. Competition is intense, and so to differentiate services and engage users, progressive gaming companies such as Big Fish are seeking solutions to more fully personalize the customer experience.

Using Business Intelligence (BI) and predictive analytics Big Fish can segment customers based on a range of demographic and behavioural indicators. This enables Big Fish to serve highly targeted recommendations and marketing, precisely personalized to a user's individual preferences.

Big Fish's Marketing Management Service platform, powered by MySQL Cluster, is used across all of the company's customer management systems, including customer support and the company's "Game Manager", to provide a unique customer experience to each of its millions of monthly users whenever they come in contact with Big Fish.

TECHNOLOGY SELECTION

Big Fish already has an extensive deployment of MySQL databases powering web applications, including the storefront. They knew MySQL could power the recommendations database, but would require additional engineering efforts to implement database sharding to support data ingest and future scaling needs, coupled with a Memcached layer for low-latency reads.

As a result, they began evaluations of MySQL Cluster, in addition to other database technologies. Using MySQL Cluster, the Engineering teams were able to leverage their existing MySQL skills, enabling them to reduce operational complexity when compared to introducing a new database to the Big Fish environment.

At the same time, they knew MySQL Cluster, backed by Oracle, provided the long-term investment protection they needed for the MMS recommendations platform.

Through their evaluation, the Big Fish engineering team identified MySQL Cluster was best able to meet their technical requirements, based on:

Write performance to support high velocity data ingest

Low latency access with in-memory tables 

On-line scalability, adding nodes to a running cluster

Continuous availability with its shared-nothing architecture

SQL and NoSQL APIs to the cluster supporting both fast data loading and complex queries

PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION

As illustrated in the figure below:

  • User data is replicated from the MySQL databases powering the gaming storefront to the Big Fish BI platform;
  • User data is analyzed and segmented within the BI platform;
  • Recommendations are loaded as user records into MySQL Cluster using the NoSQL Cluster_J (Java) Connector;
  • The SQL interface presented by the MySQL Servers then delivers personalized content to gamers in real-time, initially serving over 15m sessions per day.


Big Fish has subscribed to MySQL Cluster CGE providing the Engineering team with access to 24x7 Oracle Premier Support and MySQL Cluster Manager, which reduces operational overhead by providing:

  • Automated configuration and reconfiguration of MySQL Cluster;
  • Automated on-line node addition for on-demand scaling.

The online scalability of MySQL CGE can help Big Fish to meet future requirements, as it expands its use of MySQL CGE to include all new website developments, channels and gaming platforms. 

LEARN MORE

Read the full Big Fish Games and MySQL Cluster case study

Read the press release 


Tuesday Jul 17, 2012

MySQL Cluster Powers El Chavo from Playful Play, Latin America’s Most Popular Facebook Game

Introduction

Attracting over 3m subscribers in just 6 months and growing by 30,000 new users per day, Playful Play needed a database that was able to keep pace with the massive scalability and high availability demands of the wildly successful La Vecindad de El Chavo Facebook game.

Playful Play selected MySQL Cluster CGE running on a public cloud to power their gaming platform, providing:

  • 45% improvement in performance;
  • 99.999% uptime;
  • 80% reduction in DBA overhead;
  • Local language support, 24x7.

As a result, Playful Play has been able to maintain user growth rates and attract new advertisers to the platform, while enhancing agility and reducing cost.

Company Overview

Based out of Monterrey, Mexico, Playful Play has created Latin America’s #1 Facebook game based on "El Chavo del 8", the cultural and TV phenomenon that has been running across Latin America for the past four decades. The show is also extremely popular in Spain and the United States.

El Chavo (The Kid) appeals to a broad demographic, having attracted over 3M subscribers in its first 6 months, and adding 30,000 new users per day. The game has also proved popular with advertisers who are keen to integrate social gaming into their marketing strategies in order to raise awareness and build brand loyalty.

Through partnerships with Televisa Home Entertainment and Grupo Chespirito, Playful Play has aggressive plans to grow their business through the development of new social games targeting Latin America, Brazil, the United States and Spain.


The Challenges of Rapid Growth

As a start-up business, fast time to market at the lowest possible case was the leading development priority after Playful Play secured the rights to develop the El Chavo game.

As a result, Playful Play developed the first release of the game on the proven LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Perl / Python) stack.

To meet both the scalability and availability requirements of the game, Playful Play initially deployed MySQL in a replicated, multi-master configuration.

The database is core to the game, responsible for managing:

  • User profiles and avatars
  • Gaming session data;
  • In-app (application) purchases;
  • Advertising and digital marketing event data.

As La Vecidad de El Chavo spread virally across Facebook, subscriptions rapidly exceeded one million users, leading Playful Play to consider how to best architect their gaming platforms for long-term growth. They had heard about the release of MySQL Cluster 7.2, and so decided to initiate an evaluation to determine if it could meet their requirements.


The Route to Internet-Scale with MySQL Cluster

In addition to growing user volumes, the El Chavo game also added new features that changed the profile of the database. Operations became more write-intensive, with INSERTs and UPDATEs accounting for up to 70% of the database load.

The game’s popularity also attracted advertisers, who demanded strict SLAs for both performance (predictable throughput with low latency) as well as uptime.

Through their evaluation, the developers at Playful Play identified that MySQL Cluster was able to meet their needs.

Write Performance with Real-Time Responsiveness

MySQL Cluster’s multi-master architecture, coupled with the ability to auto-shard (partition) tables across nodes, enabled Playful Play to meet the performance and scalability demands of the El Chavo game, without changes to their applications.

The ability to store data in memory and persist to disk delivered the sub-millisecond responsiveness and durability demanded by the game’s users.

In addition, Playful Play was able to horizontally scale the database across low-cost commodity nodes running in the cloud, reducing their TCO and enhancing agility.

Continuous Availability

The shared-nothing, distributed design of MySQL Cluster coupled with integrated replication and self-healing recovery ensured high availability of the gaming platform, without DevOps intervention.

MySQL Cluster was able to protect against downtime resulting from both failures and planned upgrades. For example, Playful Play has been able to scale the cluster on-line to support growing user volumes, without service interruption.

Data Integrity Supporting Monetization

As the game evolved to support in-app purchases and digital marketing, the ACID-compliance offered by MySQL Cluster afforded the transactional integrity demanded by users and advertisers.


The Value of MySQL Cluster Consulting, Support and Management Tools

Following their successful evaluation, Playful Play deployed MySQL Cluster with their public cloud provider.

Playful Play wanted to ensure they were getting the most out of the deployment, so Oracle’s MySQL consulting team reviewed their Architecture and Design. The consultants were able to further optimize the database to deliver even higher levels of performance, and demonstrated how Playful Play could automatically scale the database using MySQL Cluster Manager.

The MySQL Cluster deployment at Playful Play is growing rapidly, and currently comprised of over 25 nodes running Linux on commodity x86 servers, each configured with 24-cores and 64GB of RAM:

  • 12 x MySQL Cluster data nodes;
  • 12 x MySQL Server SQL nodes;
  • 2 x MySQL Cluster management nodes.

Each data and SQL node is co-located to a single physical instance.

 Playful Play Deployment Architecture, built for rapid scale

Using the architecture above, MySQL Cluster is currently supporting:

  • 3 million subscribers, with 30,000 new additions per day across Latin America, Europe and U.S;
  • 10,000 concurrent users;
  • 10,000 Transactions Per Second;
  • 99.999% uptime.

"The MySQL support service has been essential in helping us for troubleshooting and giving recommendations for the production cluster, Thanks" Carlos Morales – DBA, Playfulplay.com México

Playful Play has deployed MySQL Cluster Carrier-Grade Edition, providing access to technical and consultative support, in addition to the MySQL Enterprise Monitor and MySQL Cluster Manager tools.


MySQL Enterprise Monitor Enables Continuous Service Availability

MySQL Enterprise Monitor enables Playful Play to proactively monitor the entire cluster from a single GUI. DBAs are automatically notified if any environment variables begin to exceed pre-defined thresholds, and presented with the instructions necessary to take corrective action, before users are impacted.

MySQL Cluster Manager is used to automate cluster configuration changes, eliminating the risk of manual errors and significantly enhancing DevOps productivity.

The subscription has delivered terrific value to Playful Play, enabling them to:

  • Improve performance by 45% while reducing CPU utilization by 35%, providing significant headroom for continued growth;
  • Reduced DBA overhead by 80%, providing substantial cost savings;
  • Access to local language support, 24x7.


The Future with MySQL Cluster

Playful Play has aggressive growth plans, seeking to attract over 50M subscribers within 5 years. El Chavo del 8 is continuing to gain widespread popularity in Latin regions around the world, and will be joined by other social networking games currently in development. The next major target is Brazil, presenting a very attractive, emerging market in social gaming.

MySQL Cluster CGE has been selected as the database platform powering this growth.

Playful Play will be presenting their experiences and best practices with MySQL Cluster at the MySQL Connect conference, September 29th and 30th 2012 in San Francisco.


Further Resources

MySQL Cluster at Playful Play On-Demand Webinar (Spanish)

MySQL Cluster Demonstration

Guide to Scaling Web Databases with MySQL Cluster



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