Scaling Databases at Activision

Greg Smith, Vlad Kovacik

A brief story of how we came to use Vitess/Kubernetes to power some of the biggest entertainment franchises on the planet. A few years ago we started thinking, “What would it look like to run a database on Kubernetes?” We had just migrated most of our workloads from VMs to Linux system containers. This unlocked a lot of performance potential, while being a mostly drop-in replacement. As our fleet grew and the on-call burden started to rear its head, we did some requirements gathering for running these databases using our new Kubernetes-based platform. We tested a parallel track using several open source technologies. Months into the testing there was a very clear winner which met our requirements: Vitess. We spent the last few months of the year building a proof of concept for one of our smaller services, and launched it with that year’s major titles. The success of this spurred an increased interest in Vitess across Demonware/Activision leading to many larger services adopting it for the following year. The KubeCon presentation discusses the transitional phases of moving from our classic database stack to Vitess with a high-level overview of the experience, what we learned, and some interesting points worth sharing to the wider community.

This talk was originally presented at KubeCon 2023

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