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Co-Founder of PHPwomen, Ligaya Turmelle talks about PHP, MySQL and PHPTek

Updated on January 12, 2016

4 Min Read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Ligaya Turmelle is a MySQL support engineer at Oracle and a co-founder of  PHPwomen. She has also attended Oracle conferences as a speaker. In this interview, she shares her experience as a speaker and has also offered her advice on creating a schema of a database and deploying it.

Ligaya Turmelle Interview

Cloudways: When did you switch from a role as a software engineer to a full time database developer? What was the motivation behind that switch, which attracted you toward databases rather than software?

Ligaya: I worked as a PHP developer until April 2008, when I was offered one of my dream jobs – to work for MySQL Support. While being a PHP developer, I was very active in the PHP community and enjoyed the work and the people. I enjoyed coding and was moderately decent at it, but I love data and databases. It has been my passion since my first database and GIS classes at University.

Cloudways: Attending different conferences as a speaker, what experience would you like to share with the readers?

Ligaya: To help encourage new people to submit and speak at conferences, let me tell you how I first became a speaker… or at least how I remember it.

I have a very good friend who I thought, would make an *outstanding* speaker at a conference and had been pushing them to submit talks to the 2009 PHPTek conference. My friend is articulate, knowledgeable and works on a number of very interesting things.

However like many people, my friend was absolutely convinced that they could never do it since they were “not smart enough”, “did not know enough”, “had no good ideas for a talk”, “get sick at the idea of standing in front of a room”, etc. – and so could not possibly submit to speak at a conference. My friend however encouraged me to submit. And, like my friend, I refused under the same grounds that my friend used… because really my friend is much smarter and knowledgeable than I am.

So to give my friend a push in the right direction, I made an offer; for every talk my friend submitted to the PHP Tek conference, I would submit one as well. I figured there was no way a talk of mine would be accepted, but at least it would get my friend to submit to the conference – which was what I wanted.

If I remember correctly we both submitted around 4 talks each.

The funny things is, *BOTH* my friend Lornajane and I were accepted to speak at the PHPTek conference. And we both are now regular conference speakers. Go figure.

Cloudways: What are the key points to keep in mind while creating schema of a database and implementing it?

Ligaya: These are purely my opinion but I like to keep in mind

  • What queries will be run against the data since I need to know how the data will be used.
  • What kind of queries will you be running in 1-2 year(s) as the application grows/matures
  • To have an idea of how the data usage/use case may change/expand
  • How big do you expect the data to get in 3 years

Cloudways: What was the first conference you attended as a speaker? What were your feelings when you were debuting as a conference speaker?

Ligaya: The very first conference I ever spoke at was the Florida Linux Show in 2009 and I was presenting my MySQL Server Tuning 101 talk. I had been working on this talk for over 3 months (writing, reviewing and practicing) and had already given the talk once to my local PHP user group.

The Florida Linux Show was a small regional conference with a few hundred attendees. Because of this, my session felt a lot like when I was presenting a speech at my speech class in University. I was very nervous/agitated/hyper, but not outrageously so, since I had practiced the talk many times at home and had the “first blood” presentation at the PHP user group.

I must admit however, that presenting at my first national level conference – PHPTek which was held 2 months later – was much more nerve-racking. At PHPTek, I was so nervous I could not eat at all the day of my talk, constantly went over my slides the week before and eventually threw up in the bathroom right before my session.

Cloudways: What are your key roles as a MySQL Support Engineer at Oracle?

Ligaya: The most important thing I do at MySQL Support is to represent the customer within MySQL. It is my job to find the solutions and answers my customer needs and push to make sure they get it. It is both as simple, and as complicated as that.

Cloudways: Large databases tend to become a resource hog on the servers. Do you have any suggestions to large websites and enterprise level products to improve the performance of the database?

Ligaya: Generally speaking, by the time your site/traffic/product is “large” you are more than likely already fine tuning your database to your specific use case. That makes it is hard to give advice without knowing your systems specific use case and resources.

However, if you are small to medium trying to become large, the very first thing you should be doing to improve the performance of your database is tuning your queries.

Think of it this way, you can have a formula one racecar of a database, but if you have an average person/driver driving the car (queries), that car will *never* perform to its fullest potential. It will always be limited to the fastest the driver is comfortable going.

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Ahmed Khan

Ahmed was a PHP community expert at Cloudways - A Managed PHP Hosting Cloud Platform. He is a software engineer with extensive knowledge in PHP and SEO. He loves watching Game of Thrones is his free time. Follow Ahmed on Twitter to stay updated with his works. You can email him at ahmed.khan@cloudways.com

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