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
Typically, MySQL reduces the
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
of database software by:
- Reducing database licensing
costs by over 90%
- Cutting systems downtime
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.cox.com, www.coxbusiness.com, and
From the Editor: Questions for Further Analysis and Discussion
- What is the purpose of the data warehouse at Cox Communications?
- What decision support technologies were used? Why?
- What are the LAMP technologies?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of using open source technologies for decision support?
- How does management know which vendor to select? Do you think it is difficult
to change vendors? Why or why not?
- What are the key IS/T challenges in cable TV? Today? Five years from now?
- 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
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 (www.mysql.com/why-mysql/case-studies/mysql-cox-casestudy.pdf).
Mark Cotner was contacted by email about the case. This case study
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
http://www.mysql.com/news-and-events/press-release/release_2003_21.html , view local copy.
This case study is provided for informational purposes only. DSSResources.COM makes no warranties,
express or implied, about this case summary.