Cox Communications powers massive
data warehouse with MySQL

by MySQL Staff

Cox Communications is the fourth largest cable-television provider in the United States, serving approximately 6.3 million customers. A Fortune 500 company, Cox has built communications networks and delivered quality cable television programs since 1962. Cox is noted for its high-capacity, reliable broadband delivery network as well as the company’s ability to provide superior customer service. For Cox, it’s not about being the biggest; it’s about being the best.

To maintain optimum performance and customer-service levels, Cox has developed a huge data warehousing application. At the heart of this business-critical system is a 2-billion row MySQL database.

Cox uses the MySQL database to manage a variety of cable modem information, maintain cable firmware, provide an interface to customer care for real-time support and expedite internal and customer trending and analysis. Additionally, the database aggregates the company's scheduled polls and mines the data for pertinent trouble-identification metrics on its RF (coaxial) plant.

Size and complexity requires top performance

Given the size and complexity of the application, the MySQL database is under constant pressure to perform. On a daily basis, Cox uses MySQL to pull data from over 1.2 million cable modems. Already the database includes more than 3,600 tables and two billion rows of data. Overall, the MySQL database handles approximately four million inserts every two hours.

“No question, this qualifies as a 'heavy load' environment,” noted Mark Cotner, manager of Network Application Development at Cox. “The application runs across 27 collection servers and the database will soon be about 600GB in size.”

“Based on this level of activity, you might expect that the database is busy all the time, but in fact it is almost always idle,” said Cotner. “This is a result of the speed of the MySQL database. The collection of data that occurs every two hours takes only a few minutes to complete, and the network-usage mining that happens at night takes less than three hours.”

Data analysis with MySQL is fast, dealing with the latest up-to-date information. MySQL is unmatched in speed, compactness, stability, and ease of deployment. (See the throughput comparisons in Figure 1.) When used in a data warehousing application, MySQL provides greater operational understanding of customers purchase habits and service needs enabling more effective sales and better service.

Figure 1. Throughput comparisons.

While MySQL has proven that it is able to easily handle Cox's large-scale, high-volume warehouse application, it has also enabled Cox to achieve an extremely low total cost of ownership.

Typically, MySQL reduces the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of database software by:

  • Reducing database licensing costs by over 90%
  • Cutting systems downtime by 60%
  • Lowering hardware expenditure by 70%
  • Reducing administration, engineering and support costs by up to 50%

Cox uses the LAMP software stack, with Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP and Perl. The poller application is written in Perl and they also use Perl to collect data from the pollers and store it in the master MySQL database. The application has a Web-based front-end written in PHP, which enables reporting and real-time polling features.

Technical Environment

The Cox technical environment includes IBM xSeries servers running Red Hat Linux. Two Linux boxes with 2.5 terabytes of disk space in a high avail-ability configuration serve all of their high speed Internet customer care account lookups and real-time modem polling (approximately 100, 000 hits a day). They also aggregate Cox's scheduled polls and mine that data for pertinent trouble identification metrics on its coaxial plant.

Why Industry Leaders Depend on MySQL

As an industry leader, Cox relies on the ultra-fast, highly reliable MySQL database. “Judging by its performance to this point, we are confident the MySQL database can handle even greater demands,” offered Cotner. “The MySQL application is central to our ability to make more informed business decisions and provide better customer care.”

MySQL has been proven in the market place with over four million active installations. MySQL AB stands behind the software with 7 x 24 support, training, certification, and consulting.

The MySQL database is supported by MySQL AB, a second generation Open Source company founded in 1995. The company is profitable, owns and supports all its own code and offers a unique licensing approach that makes corporate purchasing easy.

About MySQL

MySQL AB develops and supports a family of high-performance, affordable database products. The company's flagship offering is 'MySQL Enterprise', a comprehensive set of production-tested software, proactive monitoring tools, and premium support services.

MySQL is the world's most popular open source database software, with over 10 million active installations. Many of the world's largest and fastest-growing organizations use MySQL to save time and money powering their high-volume Web sites, business-critical systems and packaged software -- including industry leaders such as Yahoo!, Alcatel, The Associated Press, Suzuki and NASA.

With headquarters in the United States and Sweden -- and operations around the world -- MySQL AB supports both open source values and corporate customers' needs in a profitable, sustainable business model. For more information about MySQL, please visit

About Cox Communications

Cox Communications, a Fortune 500 company, is a multi-service broadband communications and entertainment company with more than 6 million total residential and commercial customers. Cox offers an array of advanced digital video, high-speed Internet and telephony services over its own nationwide IP network. Cox Business Services is a full-service, facilities-based provider of communications solutions for commercial customers, providing high-speed Internet, voice and long-distance services, as well as data and video transport services for small to large-sized businesses. Cox Media offers national and local cable advertising in traditional spot and new media formats, along with promotional opportunities and production services. More information about the services of Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at,, and

From the Editor: Questions for Further Analysis and Discussion

  1. What is the purpose of the data warehouse at Cox Communications?
  2. What decision support technologies were used? Why?
  3. What are the LAMP technologies?
  4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using open source technologies for decision support?
  5. How does management know which vendor to select? Do you think it is difficult to change vendors? Why or why not?
  6. What are the key IS/T challenges in cable TV? Today? Five years from now?
  7. What problems or difficulties do you anticipate with the use of this type of decision support solution?

Please cite as:

MySQL Staff, "Cox Communications powers massive data warehouse with MySQL", March 23, 2007 at URL DSSResources.COM.

Lisa Sheeran with MySQL AB provided permission to use this previous published case on November 05, 2006. The case was first published January 1, 2004 ( Mark Cotner was contacted by email about the case. This case study was posted at DSSResources.COM on Friday, March 23, 2007.

A July 9, 2003 press release from MySQL AB announced that Cox Communications (NYSE: COX) was using the MySQL® database to run a major data warehousing enterprise application. Check , view local copy.

This case study is provided for informational purposes only. DSSResources.COM makes no warranties, express or implied, about this case summary.