Relational Riverside Rumble 2022: Human vs. OtterTune for $10,000 Prize

June 1, 2022
  • Andy Pavlo

$10,000 Cash Prize!

People often ask us how good our DBMS knob tuning algorithms are at optimizing PostgreSQL and MySQL databases. Many factors — database size, workload complexity, and how often the algorithm can try a new configuration — affect the amount of improvement that OtterTune achieves. But on several occasions, we’ve measured the performance of the configurations OtterTune recommends against those selected by seasoned DBAs, and OtterTune’s algorithms have come out on top.

To prove this once and for all, we’re laying our reputation on the line and announcing the Relational Riverside Rumble. This event is a “no holds barred” competition that will pit one of the world’s best PostgreSQL database administrators (DBAs) against OtterTune’s AI-powered tuning algorithms developed at one of the world’s best Computer Science universities in the world.

To make the contest more interesting, we will award somebody $10,000 in cash (paid in $100 bills and delivered in a brown paper bag) if they can make PostgreSQL run better than OtterTune from tuning knobs. If OtterTune wins, we will still give the DBA $4,000 for their time and make a $6,000 donation to the International Otter Survival Fund in their name.

We will hold the competition later in this year. We will broadcast via YouTube live from Las Vegas.

  • Submission Deadline: July 31, 2022
  • Competitor Selection: September 1, 2022
  • Competition: December 2022

Does this sound interesting to you? There are two ways you can get involved. Or if you don’t want to participate but instead want to watch the bloodsport from your couch, sign-up to be notified of contest updates.

Call for Competitors: PostgreSQL Experts

A lot of people claim to be database experts. They may have years of experience and a bunch of fancy certifications. But nobody can be sure that they are the best of the best without stepping into the ring and showing the world that you can back up your words with your skills.

If you are a DBA that wants to prove that you are among the elite and can do a better job of improving the performance of a database via configuration tuning, sign-up to put your name in the ring. We want to compete against the best! Here’s who we’re looking for:

  • Experienced with PostgreSQL configuration tuning.
  • Based anywhere in the world.
  • Has a LinkedIn profile (your DBA chops are public)
  • Aware of, but not intimidated by otter savagery.

★ I Want To Fight ★

Call for Databases: PostgreSQL Workloads

Too many academic papers use synthetic workloads for tuning evaluations. We already know how to tune databases for the industry standard benchmarks like TPC-C and TPC-H. They’re not interesting anymore. We want the tough-to-tune databases and workloads for the Relational Riverside Rumble. These are the kind of databases that keep you up at night because your query performance is unstable. Or the databases that are so expensive that even your company’s accountant knows it by name. And despite these problems, nobody in your organization knows what to do with the database to make it better.

So if you think you have a tough-to-tune database, we want to talk to you. Sign up using the button below to share what kind of database you have. The database should have a clear tuning objective (e.g., query latency, throughput, cost), and you must be running on Amazon PostgreSQL RDS (any version). If we choose your database for the Relational Riverside Rumble, our competitors will tackle tuning it for you. You will not have to pay the DBA or OtterTune for their services in tuning your database, but you will be responsible for AWS costs for the competition (for legal / security reasons). If this sounds good to you, here’s what we’re looking for:

  • PostgreSQL database (any version) running Amazon RDS.
  • Based anywhere in the world.
  • Willing to talk publicly about your participation.

★ I Want To Use My Database ★

Logistics & Legal Stuff

After everyone completes the necessary legal paperwork, background checks, and medical clearances, the participating organization will provide both OtterTune and the competitor DBA access to a clone of their database and a workload trace (e.g., query log) on Amazon AWS. Our engineers will work with the organization to ensure that the clone configuration matches the production environment as much as possible. This arrangement will allow the contest to proceed without interfering with their production database. All data and sensitive information will be under the organization’s control and environment to mitigate security issues.

Warning: Any database administrator (DBA) participating in the Relational Riverside Rumble (contest) must agree that there are certain dangers, hazards, and risks inherent in the contest and associated activities, including but not limited to otter-related accidents that could include accidental death and dismemberment. OtterTune, Inc. (OtterTune) cannot and does not assume responsibility for any such personal injuries. Any DBA who knowingly and with intent to defraud OtterTune or files a statement of claim containing any materially false information or conceals for the purpose of misleading, information concerning any fact material thereto commits a fraudulent database act, which is a crime and subjects such person to criminal and civil penalties.


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