Graceful database schema evolution: the prism workbench

Curino, Carlo A.; Moon, Hyun J.; Zaniolo, Carlo
Curino, C
Moon, H
Zaniolo, C
Citations range: 
50 - 99
curino08graceful.pdf633.5 KB

Supporting graceful schema evolution represents an unsolved problem for traditional information systems that is further exacerbated in web information systems, such as Wikipedia and public scientific databases: in these projects based on multiparty cooperation the frequency of database schema changes has increased while tolerance for downtimes has nearly disappeared. As of today, schema evolution remains an error-prone and time-consuming undertaking, because the DB Administrator (DBA) lacks the methods and tools needed to manage and automate this endeavor by (i) predicting and evaluating the effects of the proposed schema changes, (ii) rewriting queries and applications to operate on the new schema, and (iii) migrating the database.

Our PRISM system takes a big first step toward addressing this pressing need by providing: (i) a language of Schema Modification Operators (SMO) to express concisely complex schema changes, (ii) tools that allow the DBA to evaluate the effects of such changes, (iii) optimized translation of old queries to work on the new schema version, (iv) automatic data migration, and (v) full documentation of intervened changes as needed to support data provenance, database flash back, and historical queries. PRISM solves these problems by integrating recent theoretical advances on mapping composition and invertibility, into a design that also achieves usability and scalability. Wikipedia and its 170+ schema versions provided an invaluable testbed for validating PRISM tools and their ability to support legacy queries.