Miguel Angel Garcia Sanchez-Brunete
Head of IT Infrastructure Implementation
Universidad Complutense Madrid
Spain's largest university boosts performance and availability of critical applications with MySQL Enterprise Edition.
Introduction & Background
Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) is Spain's largest university with 80,000 students, 6,500 faculty members engaged in 300 undergraduate and postgraduate programs, as well as 1,300 researchers, and a library network containing 3 million volumes.
In order to support a wide range of online resources, the university's IT Infrastructure Team operates two data centers managing 750 Linux and Windows servers. MySQL databases underlay seven heavily used applications—the most important being the university's website, the identity management system, the Virtual Campus learning platform, and the library.
Business Challenges & Goals
In 2016, the infrastructure team was facing the challenge of providing consistent service to its user base, with up to 4 million daily accesses to the university's website alone. Using MySQL Community Edition, UCM was running several standalone servers and a Linux cluster to support critical applications which often led to unplanned downtime and user dissatisfaction.
MySQL instances were not scaling to their full potential, backups took an entire weekend, manual intervention was required to perform failover, and there was no support by the vendor.
In 2019, UCM decided to upgrade to MySQL 8.0 Enterprise Edition to increase availability, ensure scalability, enable faster backups, and gain access to the proactive MySQL Support.
In 2021, still not achieving the desired high availability, the university implemented InnoDB Cluster, MySQL's high availability solution. With InnoDB, the Infrastructure Team consolidated about ten MySQL servers in seven MySQL instances onto one InnoDB Cluster.
Business Results & Metrics
By adopting InnoDB Cluster, UCM boosted the user experience by providing the high availability and scalability, to accommodate millions of daily connections, and up to 1,000 queries per second.
MySQL Enterprise Edition also helped the Infrastructure Team to reduce the number of standalone servers.
MySQL Router provides intelligent load balancing by automatically routing traffic to the appropriate read/write cluster node. This guarantees maximum availability of the services used continuously by tens of thousands of students and teachers.
Scalability has been achieved through the use of MySQL Thread Pool, which efficiently manages statement and query execution threads. It eliminates the previous performance bottleneck caused by thousands of concurrent connections.
MySQL Thread Pool has allowed UCM to manage peak demand during examinations when large numbers of students connected concurrently through Virtual Campus.
Backup performance has been improved by using MySQL Enterprise Backup, which now realizes a full hot backup of the 600 gigabyte database in 35 minutes—versus an entire weekend when the university employed the MySQL Community Edition.
Overall, MySQL InnoDB Cluster has freed the infrastructure team from supervising multiple standalone servers running critical systems. It allowed them to build and deploy high-availability applications, providing the maximum uptime that is vital for Spain's largest university.
Why MySQL Enterprise Edition
Originally UCM picked MySQL because it was largely used within the educational sector, it was free, the design was simple, and the database was easy to deploy. After a few years, limitations became evident and the decision to upgrade first to Community Server 5.7 and later to Enterprise Edition 8.0 was driven by the need for better performance.
When it became clear that consolidating multiple servers onto InnoDB Cluster would provide a considerable increase in stability, availability, and scalability, the university did not have to think twice. It was especially attracted to the 24/7 support offered by the MySQL team.
"We made the decision in less than a day. And I love the support, which is better than that offered by many other vendors I've worked with," says Miguel Angel Garcia Sanchez-Brunete.