New Book: MySQL 8 Query Performance Tuning

I have over the last few years been fortunate to have two books published through Apress, Pro MySQL NDB Cluster which I wrote together with Mikiya Okuno and MySQL Connector/Python Revealed. With the release of MySQL 8 around a year ago, I started to think of how many changes there has been in the last few MySQL versions. Since MySQL 5.6 was released as GA in early 2013, some of the major features related to performance tuning includes the Performance Schema which was greatly changed in 5.6, histograms, EXPLAIN ANALYZE, hash joins, and visual explain. Some of these are even unique in MySQL 8.

So, I was thinking that it could be interesting to write a book that focuses on performance tuning in MySQL 8. In order to try to limit the scope somewhat (which as you can see from the page count that I was not too successful with), I decided to mainly look at the topics related to query performance. I proposed this to my acquisition editor Jonathan Gennick, and he was very interested. Oracle whom I worked for at the time was also interested (thanks Adam Dixon, Victoria Reznichenko, Edwin DeSouza, and Rich Mason for supporting me and approving the project). Also thanks to the Apress editors and staff who has been involved including but not limited to Jonathan Gennick, Jill Balzano, Laura Berendson, and Arockia Rajan Dhurai.

Now around a year later, the final result is ready: MySQL 8 Query Performance Tuning. If you are interested, you can read more about the content and/or buy it at Apress, Amazon, and others book shops:

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Book Structure

The book is divided into six parts with a total of 27 chapters. I have attempted to keep each chapter relatively self-contained with the aim that you can use the book as a reference book. The drawback of this choice is that there is some duplication of information from time to time. An example is Chapter 18 which describes the more theoretical side of locks and how to monitor locks, and Chapter 22 which provides practical examples of investigating lock contention. Chapter 22 naturally draws on the information in Chapter 18, so some of the information is repeated. This was a deliberate choice, and I hope it helps you reduce the amount of page flipping to find the information you need.

The six parts progressively move you through the topics starting with some basic background and finishing with more solution-oriented tasks. The first part starts out discussing the methodology, benchmarks, and test data. The second part focuses on the sources of information such as the Performance Schema. The third part covers the tools such as MySQL Shell used in this book. The fourth part provides the theoretical background used in the last two parts. The fifth part focuses on analyzing queries, transactions, and locks. Finally, the sixth part discusses how to improve performance through the configuration, query optimization, replication, and caching. There are cases where some content is a little out of place, like all replication information is contained in a single chapter.


Part I: Getting Started

Part I introduces you to the concepts of MySQL query performance tuning. This includes some high-level considerations, of which some are not unique to MySQL (but are of course discussed in the context of MySQL). The four chapters are

  • Chapter 1 – MySQL Performance Tuning
    This introductory chapter covers some high-level concepts of MySQL performance tuning such as the importance of considering the whole stack and the lifecycle of a query.
  • Chapter 2 – Query Tuning Methodology
    It is important to work in an effective way to solve performance problems. This chapter introduces a methodology to work effectively and emphasizes the importance of working proactively rather than doing firefighting.
  • Chapter 3 – Benchmarking with Sysbench
    It is often necessary to use benchmarks to determine the effect of a change. This chapter introduces benchmarking in general and specifically discusses the Sysbench tool including how to create your own custom benchmarks.
  • Chapter 4 – Test Data
    The book mostly uses a few standard test databases which are introduced in this chapter.

Part II: Sources of Information

MySQL exposes information about the performance through a few sources. The Performance Schema, the sys schema, the Information Schema, and the SHOW statement are introduced in each their chapter. There are only relatively few examples of using these sources in this part; however, these four sources of information are used extensively in the remainder of the book. If you are not already familiar with them, you are strongly encouraged to read this part. Additionally, the slow query log is covered. The five chapters are

  • Chapter 5 – The Performance Schema
    The main source of performance related information in MySQL is – as the name suggests – the Performance Schema. This chapter introduces the terminology, the main concepts, the organization, and the configuration.
  • Chapter 6 – The sys Schema
    The sys schema provides reports through predefined views and utilities in stored functions and programs. This chapter provides an overview of what features are available.
  • Chapter 7 – The Information Schema
    If you need metadata about the MySQL and the databases, the Information Schema is the place to look. It also includes important information for performance tuning such as information about indexes, index statistics, and histograms. This chapter provides an overview of the views available in the Information Schema.
  • Chapter 8 – SHOW Statements
    The SHOW statements are the oldest way to obtain information ranging from which queries are executing to schema information. This chapter relates the SHOW statements to the Information Schema and Performance Schema and covers in somewhat more detail the SHOW statements without counterparts in the two schemas.
  • Chapter 9 – The Slow Query Log
    The traditional way to find slow queries is to log them to the slow query log. This chapter covers how to configure the slow query log, how to read the log events, and how to aggregate the events with the mysqldump utility.

Part III: Tools

MySQL provides several tools that are useful when performing the daily work as well as specialized tasks. This part covers three tools ranging from monitoring to simple query execution. This book uses Oracle’s dedicated MySQL monitoring solution (requires commercial subscription but is also available as a trial) as an example of monitoring. Even if you are using other monitoring solutions, you are encouraged to study the examples as there will be a large overlap. These three tools are also used extensively in the remainder of the book. The three chapters in this part are

  • Chapter 10 – MySQL Enterprise Monitor
    Monitoring is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a stable and well-performing database. This chapter introduces MySQL Enterprise Monitor (MEM) and shows how you can install the trial and helps you navigate and use the graphical user interface (GUI).
  • Chapter 11 – MySQL Workbench
    MySQL provides a graphical user interface through the MySQL Workbench product. This chapter shows how you can install and use it. In this book, MySQL Workbench is particularly important for its ability to create diagrams – known as Visual Explain – representing the query execution plans.
  • Chapter 12 – MySQL Shell
    One of the newest tools around from Oracle for MySQL is MySQL Shell which is a second-generation commandline client with support for executing code in both SQL, Python, and JavaScript. This chapter gets you up to speed with MySQL Shell and teaches you about its support for using external code modules, its reporting infrastructure, and how to create custom modules, reports, and plugins.

Part IV: Schema Considerations and the Query Optimizer

In Part IV, there is a change of pace, and the focus moves to the topics more directly related to performance tuning starting with topics related to the schema, the query optimizer, and locks. The six chapters are

  • Chapter 13 – Data Types
    In relational databases, each column has a data type. This data type defines which values can be stored, which rules apply when comparing two values, how the data is stored, and more. This chapter covers the data types available in MySQL and gives guidance on how to decide which data types to use.
  • Chapter 14 – Indexes
    An index is used to locate data, and a good indexing strategy can greatly improve the performance of your queries. This chapter covers the index concepts, considerations about indexes, index types, index features, and more. It also includes a discussion on how InnoDB uses indexes and how to come up with an indexing strategy.
  • Chapter 15 – Index Statistics
    When the optimizer needs to determine how useful an index is and how many rows match a condition on an indexed value, it needs information on the data in the index. This information is index statistics. This chapter covers how index statistics work in MySQL, how to configure them, monitoring, and updating the index statistics.
  • Chapter 16 – Histograms
    If you want the optimizer to know how frequent a value occurs for a given column, you need to create a histogram. This is a new feature in MySQL 8, and this chapter covers how histograms can be used, their internals, and how to query the histogram metadata and statistics.
  • Chapter 17 – The Query Optimizer
    When you execute a query, it is the query optimizer that determines how to execute it. This chapter covers the tasks performed by the optimizer, join algorithms, join optimizations, configuration of the optimizer, and resource groups.
  • Chapter 18 – Locking Theory and Monitoring
    One of the problems that can cause the most frustration is lock contention. The first part of this chapter explains why locks are needed, lock access levels, and lock types (granularities). The second part of the chapter goes into what happens when a lock cannot be obtained, how to reduce lock contention, and where to find information about locks.

Part V: Query Analysis

With the information from Part IV, you are now ready to start analyzing queries. This includes finding the queries for further analysis and then analyzing the query using EXPLAIN or the Performance Schema. You also need to consider how transactions work and investigate lock contention when you have two or more queries fighting for the same locks. The four chapters are

  • Chapter 19 – Finding Candidate Queries for Optimization
    Whether part of the daily maintenance or during an emergency, you need to find the queries that you need to analyze and potentially optimize. This chapter shows how you can use the Performance Schema, the sys schema, MySQL Workbench, your monitoring solution, and the slow query log to find the queries that are worth looking into.
  • Chapter 20 – Analyzing Queries
    Once you have a candidate query, you need to analyze why it is slow or impacts the system too much. The main tool is the EXPLAIN statement which provides information about the query plan chosen by the optimizer. How to generate and read – including examples – the query plans using EXPLAIN is the main focus of the chapter. You can also use the optimizer trace to get more information on how the optimizer arrived at the selected query plan. An alternative way to analyze queries is to use the Performance Schema and sys schema to break queries down into smaller parts.
  • Chapter 21 – Transactions
    InnoDB executes everything as a transaction, and transactions is an important concept. Proper use of transactions ensures atomicity, consistency, and isolation. However, transactions can also be the cause of severe performance and lock problems. This chapter discusses how transactions can become a problem and how to analyze them.
  • Chapter 22 – Diagnosing Lock Contention
    This chapter goes through four scenarios with lock contention (flush locks, metadata locks, record-level locks, and deadlocks) and discusses the symptoms, the cause, how to set up the scenario, the investigation, the solution, and how to prevent problems.

Part VI: Improving Queries

You have found your problem queries and analyzed them and their transaction to understand why they are underperforming. But how do you improve the queries? This chapter goes through the most important configuration options not covered elsewhere, how to change the query plan, schema changes and bulk loading, replication, and caching as means to improve the performance. The five chapters are

  • Chapter 23 – Configuration
    MySQL requires resources when executing a query. This chapter covers the best practices for configuring these resources and the most important configuration options that are not covered in other discussions. There is also an overview of the data lifecycle in InnoDB as background for the discussion of configuring InnoDB.
  • Chapter 24 – Change the Query Plan
    While the optimizer usually does a good job at finding the optimal query execution plan, you will from time to time have to help it on its way. It may be that you end up with full table scans because no indexes exist or the existing indexes cannot be used. You may also wish to improve the index usage, or you may need to rewrite complex conditions or entire queries. This chapter covers these scenarios as well as shows how you can use the SKIP LOCKED clause to implement a queue system.
  • Chapter 25 – DDL and Bulk Data Load
    When you perform schema changes or load large data sets into the system, you ask MySQL to perform a large amount of work. This chapter discusses how you can improve the performance of such tasks including using the parallel data load feature of MySQL Shell. There is also a section on general data load considerations which also applies to data modifications in general and shows the difference between sequential and random order inserts. That discussion is followed by considerations on what this means for the choice of primary key.
  • Chapter 26 – Replication
    The ability to replicate between instances is a popular feature in MySQL. From a performance point of view, replication has two sides: you need to ensure replication performs well, and you can use replication to improve performance. This chapter discusses both sides of the coin including covering the Performance Schema tables that can be used to monitor replication.
  • Chapter 27 – Caching
    One way to improve the performance of queries is to not execute them at all, or at least avoid executing part of the query. This chapter discusses how you can use caching tables to reduce the complexity of queries and how you can use Memcached, the MySQL InnoDB Memcached plugin, and ProxySQL to avoid executing the queries altogether.

I hope you will enjoy the book.

I have worked with MySQL databases since 2006 both as an SQL developer, a database administrator, and for more than eight years as part of the Oracle MySQL Support team. I have spoken at MySQL Connect and Oracle OpenWorld on several occasions. I have contributed to the sys schema and four Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) exams for MySQL 5.6 to 8.0. I have written four books, all published at Apress.

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