Volume 5

Volume 5, Number 28

September 12, 2007

14 pages982 K bytes

Teaching Scalability Issues in Large Scale Database Application Development

Russell Anderson
West Texas A&M University
Canyon, TX 79015 USA

Musa J. Jafar
West Texas A&M University
Canyon, TX 79015 USA

Amjad A. Abdullat
West Texas A&M University
Canyon, TX 79015 USA

Abstract: Many information systems degree programs include a course in database application development. These courses typically require the students to design and develop a complete database application. In doing so, the instructor will frequently discuss performance and scalability issues of the applications. However, giving the students a valid, hands-on performance and scalability experience is difficult. The problems of doing so usually originate with the small size of the test database and from testing the whole application with too few concurrent users- frequently one. Although this can be partially overcome by requiring students to programmatically construct larger test databases; it still does not address the performance and scalability problems that arise when hundreds or even thousands of users are concurrently executing transactions against the system. At the Department of Computer Information Systems of West Texas A&M University, we have implemented a hardware/software solution that allows students to assess most performance and scalability characteristics of their database applications. The solution allows students to execute from two to thousands of concurrent and varied transactions against the database. While doing this they can monitor and gather performance statistics such as minimum, maximum, and mean transaction response time, and failure rates due to locking or other DBMS/OS configuration problems. In the paper we describe in detail the methodology and the hardware/software solution platform that we use to implement the performance tests. We also present the results of our first round of use in a classroom setting the learning experiences of the students and the issues encountered.

Keywords: database performance, scalability, web applications, testing

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Recommended Citation: Anderson, Jafar, and Abdullat (2007). Teaching Scalability Issues in Large Scale Database Application Development. Information Systems Education Journal, 5 (28). http://isedj.org/5/28/. ISSN: 1545-679X. (A preliminary version appears in The Proceedings of ISECON 2006: §2124. ISSN: 1542-7382.)