Wednesday, 22 October 2008

mysqlconfde08: MySQL Customer Conference in Munich 21.10.2008

Yesterday, we concluded our third annual "MySQL Kundenkonferenz" in Munich. We had a record number [1] of participants, 255 on the re-count including hosts. I had the pleasure to deliver the welcome speech and to moderate the event. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was my distinct impression that the expectations of the participants were more than met.

The external setting of the conference was Hilton Munich City on Rosenheimerstraße, close to Munich's culture centre Gasteig -- and just one S-Bahn stop away from home for me. Excellent facilities.

The start was delayed slightly due to our high-latency registration process, which prompts us to go for something more scalable next year. At 9:30 I could then start about "Powering the Web Economy", describing the changes since last year (such as MySQL having been acquired by Sun), and presenting a record number of hosts: Antje Oehring, Bertrand Matthelié, Braddley Wilkinson, Brendan Towers, Donatus Schmid, Franz Haberhauer, Gerhard Jährling, Hana Hütter, Harry Timm, Jan Kneschke, Jürgen Giesel, Kai Voigt, myself Kaj Arnö, Klaus Bergius, Ralf Gebhardt, Richard Mason, Robin Schumacher, and Rolf Günther.

As part of the intro, I asked for the number of bloggers in the audience and got perhaps around 10 hands. I asked for any blogging to happen with the tag mysqlconfde08. Interestingly, when searching for mysqlconfde08 this morning, I found no blogs yet, but instead, four Twitter comments on Twemes. One of them, stiefkind, acknowledges that I am "nordic by nature" but claims that I "speak German with a Swiss accent". I take that as a compliment [2]!

Twitter memes on mysqlconfde08

After me, Robin Schumacher (Director of Product Marketing for MySQL) shared his insights into "The Future of MySQL: What You Need to Know about What's Coming". No, he is of no relation to Michael Schumacher, but at least he talks very fast, he confessed.

Before the lunch break, we had two parallel tracks of two technical sessions, by four very knowledgeable presenters: Ralf Gebhardt (MySQL Sales Engineer) on Web 2.0 and memcached, Jan Kneschke (of lighttpd and MySQL Proxy fame) on High Availability and Load Balancing, Franz Haberhauer (Chief Technologist) on MySQL Best Practices on Solaris, and Kai Voigt (MySQL Trainer) on selecting the right High Availability solution for MySQL.

After a short but quite delicious lunch, our Silver Sponsors (Continuent, Dolphin and Talend) each got a well-deserved sixty-second commercial break, describing their solutions. And then Sun Germany's press speaker and marketing director Donatus Schmid presented the Sun-side view of the status of the Sun-MySQL integration after over half a year since the acquisition. His brief but eloquent speech and his respectful attitude illustrated very well why MySQLers find themselves in good hands as part of Sun.

Then we got our surprise treatment from the star guest of the day, Miriam Tuerk, CEO of Infobright. A Canadian of German descent, she presented herself in fluent German. Her accent wasn't foreign, but that of Mannheim (a city not far from Frankfurt) [3], which earned her spontaneous applause and the audience's full attention to why Infobright's data warehousing solutions (Infobright Community Edition) are the way to go when you've got more than 500 GB of data. Personally, I am very impressed both with the Infobright product (giving fast replies to aggregate SELECT queries, based on clever metadata and no need for the DBA to do indexing), and with Miriam as a person. It's not everyday that I see companies that are this willing to learn, to understand, to release their core product under GPLv2, and to spend energy and resources building a community.

The afternoon had two tracks, one with MySQL customers presenting Use Cases, and another technical track with the already mentioned Jan Kneschke (on Performance Tuning) and Kai Voigt (on Backup Strategies). The customer cases were enlightening, as they usually are when the presenters are good. Uwe Geercken, IT Manager of Swissport, described the situation before picking MySQL, how MySQL was chosen, what the experiences were, and what the current issues are, in the interesting business of running airports. Jörg Künzel from OBI's IT partner GfD described the innovative use of MySQL in OBI, the leading European Do-It-Yourself store with a size larger than that of Sun Microsystems. Their use of MySQL is distributed, so that each cash register has a separate MySQL Server, enabling offline usage either when networks are down (important when opening chains in new economies with flaky networks, and when selling Christmas trees outdoors without any cabling whatsoever).

Wie, wo, was weiß OBI?

During the whole day, the presentations were interpreted into sign language (like above during the OBI presentation). One of the Austrian MySQL customers present was hearing impaired, and I was intrigued to learn that the Austrian version of Gebärdensprache is mutually not intelligible with the German one. Although sometimes challenging, that's not the case with spoken language (Germans and Austrians understand each other as easily as Brits and Americans, or Swedes from Sweden and Finland Swedes like myself).

The last presentation was an educational roller-coaster tour (that was the initial slide that the presenter Ralf Gebhardt chose himself) on scaling and virtualisation. After that, we had the usual question-and-answer session, with plenty of questions directed at all the presenters. For most roadmap oriented questions, we saw a pattern of

  1. a question from the audience, in German, followed by

  2. a semi-answer from myself, also translating the question into English, so that

  3. Robin Schumacher could give the right answer.

After the Q&A, we had a networking session over drinks, which then continued for some of us at the Schrannenhalle, where we were joined by Florian Haas and Patrick Rion from Linbit (who were in town for the Systems Fair). We concluded the day with great food at the French restaurant Cameleon [4].

All in all, a fun and educational day with lots of networking. Thanks to all presenters, and especially to Jürgen Giesel (who was in charge of the arrangements of the day) and Bertrand Matthelié (who is in charge of all European MySQL Customer Conferences) for excellent organisation.

[1] Had we had one more participant, then we could no longer store no_of_attendees in a one-byte TINYINT UNSIGNED.

[2] Once many years ago in Poland, I was trying to read out loud a sentence in Polish. I don't know much beyond "Dziękuję" (thanks) and "Smacznego" (bon appetite), except what I can extrapolate from the 200 or so words of Russian that I know (but I don't speak Russian, I just pretend). Then, I got the best foreign language compliment I had ever got: "Your Polish has a strong Russian accent".

[3] I thanked Miriam and named her "die Tochter Mannheims" (the daughter of Mannheim), referring to Söhne Mannheims (Sons of Mannheim), a German musical band founded 1995 in Mannheim by Xavier Naidoo and others.

[4] Bertrand dislikes non-European food. I learned that quickly after starting to work with him almost exactly eight years ago. Ah, time flies.



  1. Hi!

    I tweetted too but I forgot the tag :( + the following statuses:


    Kaj, we are looking forward to meet you on Twitter!

  2. Hi Kaj,

    no time yet to blog, so busy at work. I will blog about Munic at the weekend

  3. Sign language:

    It's the same here in your native country. The Swedish-Finnish hearing-impaired are their own minority language: They use the same signs as Finnish-Finnish hearing impaired, yet the language (when you write, read or move your mouth) is Swedish. In Sweden they have completely different signs, but 99% the same Swedish language.

  4. Das war die MySQL Konferenz 2008...

    Am 21.10.2008 war ich zum ersten mal auf der Kundenkonferenz von MySQL.
    Stattgefunden hat die Konferenz in München im Hilton, was schon im Vorfeld eine hervorragende Bewirtung garantierte. Neben den Fachvorträgen wurden auch zwei best practive Vortr....