Database Optimisations for be·at 

Database maintenance is often overlooked, but it can make or break an IT project. Typically, a back-end team sets up the database when the project starts, but once the platform is used and data starts pouring in, an unoptimized database can become a costly performance bottleneck. In this case study, we’ll explain how we at Zebanza managed to increase the performance of an application a hundredfold without additional resources by performing a few minor database modifications.

A Comprehensive Platform 

Be·at is Belgium’s largest operator of public event venues. Every year, they host more than 600 concerts, shows and performances spread across 5 arenas and 3 theatres. As you can imagine, putting on that many events for sizeable audiences requires a coordinated effort by a large team of professionals and enthusiastic volunteers. 


Our colleagues at Xplore Group helped be·at to set up a Facility and Event Management Platform (FEMP) to meet their staffing, accreditation, and operational management needs. This platform made it possible to exchange real-time info between staff members, capture operational data in a self-service tool, and manage staffing, briefings, and access control. 


A crucial part of the FEMP is @YourService, a mobile and web application to take care of the staffing and crew access features. Be·at’s event and facility managers can use it to manage staffing through the web application, while their event staff receives their briefings through the mobile application. 


The Challenge 


In the past few years, @YourService has successfully been used for increasingly larger audiences and staff teams. Thanks to its success, other features were added to the application, including geofencing and notifications. These features also increased the amount and types of data that were sent back and forth, increasing the load on the initial data handling setup.  


Faced with a potential bottleneck and in need of an open-source database expert, Xplore Group was quick to contact Zebanza. After some digging, we found that the notification system interacting with the new geofencing functionality could lead to data throughput issues.  


Be·at’s event managers use the web application to send out updates to staff, such as announcements that a certain parking was full, or a specific entrance was to be used. This information is sent out as a notification with an updated briefing. When the event staff opened this notification, they would simultaneously download all updated briefings related to that event, together with other updated information on present and future events. This could affect the application’s performance and user experience. 


Our Solution 


The key to guaranteeing the performance of @YourService was a three-phased approach, where we worked together with Xplore Group. First, they optimised the mobile application, so calls to the database only happened when they were really needed. Secondly, they researched which queries were performed in the database, and where they could optimise them to avoid issues. However, Xplore Group quickly realized that they would need an expert’s eye to really get the most out of the database. 


“@YourService is built by great developers with solid database knowledge. However, when we started looking for a solution, we noticed that we were lacking those final pieces of in-depth expertise. We knew that we needed an expert in open-source databases, so the choice for Zebanza was an obvious one.” 

– Maarten Van Avermaet, @YourService Project manager

 The third and final part of the solution was to switch the way that queries were constructed: instead of working top-down, they should start from the perspective of the team members and work their way up. That way, a lot less data had to be requested with every query, without any changes to the existing architecture and data model and without added resources. 

By reworking the query and creating a few
additional indexes, we managed to drastically improve the database’s performance in a matter of hours. Queries that used to take up to 4 seconds were now executed in a mere 40 milliseconds: an impressive hundredfold increase in speed. Even better is that our solution scales perfectly, as a real-life test soon after their publish showed. During a weekend of events across all eight of be·at’s venues, @YourService worked without a hitch. 


“I was surprised at how quickly Zebanza managed to solve our issue. Without any background knowledge about the business and @YourService, they assessed the potential issue almost at once. With just a few hours spent optimising queries together with one of Xplore Group’s technical experts, Zebanza not only found the bottleneck, but solved it as well.” – Maarten Van Avermaet 


Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but perfection often requires the eye of an expert. This case clearly shows the importance of expertise when it comes to databases, especially when moving from fragmented development cycles over the years to large-scale testing and production in a real-life environment. With a fresh perspective and some minor tweaks, we significantly increased At Your Service’s performance in a single afternoon.  


Both Xplore Group and be·at were thrilled with how quickly and efficiently we managed to solve their issue. We will continue to support Xplore Group with database optimisations for be·at, and they are even considering involving us in the development stage for other projects. We’re excited to see what the future holds! 

Running into performance issues once you scale your application or add new features? In need of an expert for open-source databases? Contact us today, we’ll gladly help you out!


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Working at Zebanza

Working at zebanza

Zebanza is a group of data platform experts passionate about Open Source. With years of combined experience, we share our passion and expertise in Open Source and proprietary data solutions. And we strive every day to earn our stripes!

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