Chapter 3. Schema Optimization and Indexing

Optimizing a poorly designed or badly indexed schema can improve performance by orders of magnitude. If you require high performance, you must design your schema and indexes for the specific queries you will run. You should also estimate your performance requirements for different kinds of queries, because changes to one query or one part of the schema can have consequences elsewhere. Optimization often involves tradeoffs. For example, adding indexes to speed up retrieval will slow updates. Likewise, a denormalized schema can speed up some types of queries but slow down others. Adding counter and summary tables is a great way to optimize queries, but they may be expensive to maintain.

Sometimes you may need to go beyond the role of a developer and question the business requirements handed to you. People who aren’t experts in database systems often write business requirements without understanding their performance impacts. If you explain that a small feature will double the server hardware requirements, they may decide they can live without it.

Schema optimization and indexing require a big-picture approach as well as attention to details. You need to understand the whole system to understand how each piece will affect others. This chapter begins with a discussion of data types, then covers indexing strategies and normalization. It finishes with some notes on storage engines.

You will probably need to review this chapter after reading the ...

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