Nov 25, 2014: Lesley Wevers: Analysis of the Behaviour of Online Transactional Schema Transformations

November 25, 2014Analysis of the Behaviour of Online Transactional Schema Transformations
Room: Carre 2GLesley Wevers

We want to draw the attention of the database community to the problem of online schema changes: changing the schema of a database without blocking concurrent transactions. We have identified important classes of relational schema transformations that we want to perform online, and we have identified general requirements for the mechanisms that execute these transformations. Using these requirements, we have developed an experiment based on the standard TPC-C benchmark to assess the behaviour of existing systems. We look at PostgreSQL, which does not support online schema changes; MySQL, which supports basic online schema changes; and pt-online-schema-change, which is a tool for MySQL that uses triggers to implement online schema changes. We found that none of the existing systems fulfill our requirements. In particular, existing non-blocking solutions can not maintain the ACID guarantees when composing schema transformations. This leads to intermediate states being exposed to database programs, which are non-trivial to handle correctly. As a solution direction, we propose lazy schema transformations, which can naturally be composed into complex schema transformations that properly guarantee the ACID properties, and which have minimal impact on concurrent transactions.