Verizon Wireless, the #1 mobile carrier in the United States, operates the nation’s largest 3G and 4G LTE network, with the most subscribers (109 millions) and the highest revenue ($70.2 Billion in 2011). Verizon Wireless built the first wide-area wireless broadband network and delivered the first wireless consumer 3G multimedia service in the US, and offers global voice and data services in more than 200 destinations around the world. To support 4.2 million daily wireless transactions and 493,000 calls and emails transactions produced by 94.2 million retail customers, Verizon Wireless employs over 78,000 employees with area headquarters across the United States.
The Business Challenge
Seeing the stupendous rise in social media, video streaming, live broadcasting…etc which redefined the scope of technology, Verizon Wireless, as a technology savvy company, wanted to provide a platform to its employees where they could network socially, view and host microsites, stream live videos, blog and provide the latest news.
The IT team at Verizon Wireless had abundant experience with various technology platforms to support the huge number of applications in the company. However, open-source products weren’t yet widely used in the organization and the team had the ambition to adopt such technologies and see if the architecture could meet Verizon Wireless’ rigid requirements. After evaluating a few solutions, the IT team decided to use the LAMP stack for Vzweb, its mission-critical, 24x7 employee portal, with Drupal as the front end and MySQL on Linux as the backend, and for a few other internal websites also on MySQL.
The MySQL Solution
Verizon Wireless started to support its employee portal, Vzweb, its online streaming website, Vztube, and internal wiki pages, Vzwiki, with MySQL 5.1 in 2010. Vzweb is the main internal communication channel for Verizon Wireless, while Vztube hosts important company-wide webcasts regularly for executive-level announcements, so both channels have to be live and accessible all the time for its 78,000 employees across the United States. However during the initial deployment of the MySQL based Intranet, the application experienced performance issues. High connection spikes occurred causing slow user response time, and the IT team applied workarounds to continue the service. A number of key performance indexes (KPI) for the infrastructure were identified and the operational framework redesigned to support a more robust website and conform to the 99.985% uptime SLA (Service-Level Agreement). The MySQL DBA team made a series of upgrades in MySQL:
- Step 1: Moved from MyISAM to InnoDB storage engine in 2010
- Step 2: Upgraded to the latest MySQL 5.1.54 release in 2010
- Step 3: Upgraded from MySQL 5.1 to the latest GA release MySQL 5.5 in 2011, and leveraging MySQL Thread Pool as part of MySQL Enterprise Edition to scale better
After making those changes, the team saw a much better response time during high concurrency use cases, and achieved an amazing performance improvement of 1400%!
In January 2011, Verizon CEO, Ivan Seidenberg, announced the iPhone launch during the opening keynote at Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and that presentation was streamed live to its 78,000 employees. The event was broadcasted flawlessly with MySQL as the database. Later in 2011, Hurricane Irene attacked the East Coast of United States and caused major life and financial damages. During the hurricane, the team directed more traffic to its west coast data center to avoid potential infrastructure damage in the East Coast. Such transition was executed smoothly and even though the geographical distance became longer for the East Coast users, there was no impact in the performance of Vzweb and Vztube, and the SLA goal was achieved.
“MySQL is the key component of Verizon Wireless’ mission-critical employee portal application,” said Shivinder Singh, senior DBA at Verizon Wireless. “We achieved 1400% performance improvement by moving from the MyISAM storage engine to InnoDB, upgrading to the latest GA release MySQL 5.5, and using the MySQL Thread Pool to support high concurrent user connections. MySQL has become part of our IT infrastructure, on which potentially more future applications will be built.”
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