We see it every year–the merry-making of the holidays is followed by the obligatory New Year’s Day trip to the gym. But while the rest of us are working off our turkey and apple pie indulgences, e-commerce companies are trying to figure out what to do with the excess capacity they’ve acquired over the course of the holiday shopping season to run their databases.

Provisioning always means over-provisioning
Just like the packages piling up on Santa’s sleigh, the holidays can generate 4x or more additional load on an e-commerce store. Insufficient database capacity can result in poor site performance, downtime, lost revenue and unhappy customers who spread negative experiences on social media. To avoid this, businesses will typically provision enough servers to handle the anticipated peak load. However, this means overprovisioning for the non-peak periods. And in many instances it means adding more capacity than is even required for peak workloads, since you’ve got to err on the side of having too much. In other words, ‘provisioning’ inevitably translates into ‘over-provisioning’.

Stuck with a gift you can’t return
Getting rid of tacky sweaters and other stuff you don’t want is easy enough, but shedding database capacity isn’t so simple. MySQL and most other RDBMs powering ecommerce applications run on a single server. At best, those using these databases have purchased a very large server which they are then stuck with. At worst, they’ve exhausted capacity on that server and resorted to sharding or master/read slave configurations– expensive “database gymnastics” that add complexity and fragility to your application.

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