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O'Reilly Network: NBCi Accesses and Maintains Complex Databases on Linux with Perl

Dec 14, 2000, 20:46 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Howard Wen)

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"Wrangling the enormous amount of information stored in NBCi's databases is easy with Perl. Perl was already an important component in the company's operations when the NBCi site was formed by merging Xoom.com, Snap.com, and the online division of NBC. "When I started out with Xoom.com, Perl was heavily used for most database applications, CGI, and wherever else it made sense under time constraints," explains Reed Sandberg, who works as a database engineer for the infrastructure software division of NBCi."

"Part of NBCi's business involves developing highly targeted email campaigns. To pull this off, the company has to access a parallel cluster of several Linux servers, each running Oracle and all "glued" together by Perl. Essentially, Perl is used to make several database servers run in parallel to create one giant, virtual server. Technically, it's more akin to a distributed system. This involves transferring data among the servers by sending signals in a master-slave fashion. Perl was also used to create a CGI Web interface to help administer this system."

"Perl also allowed Sandberg to design this entire setup to be scalable so that, as more members sign up, additional Linux servers can be added to the system. "DBI is indispensable for this kind of work," he says. "I can't imagine writing database apps anymore without having regex's at my fingertips."

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