Open Source DBA

email: valerie AT tortugatech DOT com

Open-source database professional with expertise in web-scale data storage and data delivery. Experienced in working with diverse, remote teams on multiple concurrent projects in changing environments. Strong analytical and written communication skills. Consistently inclusive team-player attitude.

Code repository at:

Work Experience

Lead Database Consultant

Pythian, Ottawa, Ontario - 2015 to current

  • Provide technical and client lead support, take technical escalations. Build proofs of concept for new technologies. Interview candidates. Lead technical portion of sales calls and client onboarding. Service delivery as database consultant as listed below. Interim team manager during transitions.
  • Remote DBA for database consultancy. Upgrades, backups, replication, HA/failover, reviews and recommendations, documentation, queries, ETL/BI/reports, release support, monitoring configuration, emergency support, and on-call for MySQL 5.0 through 5.7, Percona, MariaDB, Amazon RDS/Aurora, Google Cloud.

Database Consultant

Pythian, Ottawa, Ontario - 2014-2015

  • Remote DBA for database consultancy. Upgrades, backups, replication, HA/failover, reviews and recommendations, documentation, queries, ETL/BI/reports, release support, monitoring configuration, emergency support, and on-call for MySQL 5.0 through 5.6, Percona, MariaDB, Amazon RDS.

Senior Database Administrator, TechOps

WebAssign, Raleigh, North Carolina - 2013-2014

  • Led database remediation during high load: set up new DB servers; specified more performant systems partitioning; set up new MySQL instances; developed plan to migrate/failover with minimal downtime; did migrations; tuned configs for new hardware; tuned config on existing MySQL instances & triaged developer requests around app changes.
  • Deployed MongoDB clusters in QA/prod: defined architecture; set up replicasets/failover, shards/scaling; installed monitoring/graphing; did operational testing to develop institutional knowledge and doc on how to support in prod; configured instances for prod settings; automated deployment/config; installed authentication.
  • Indexed slow queries to reduce full scans by 90%; worked with dev to create performant queries for app code; moved top long-running frequent aggregate queries to materialized views to reduce query time from multiple sec to parts of ms.
  • Installed systems to give insight into MySQL and InnoDB metrics; MongoDB monitoring and graphing; slow & full queries. Used results of measurement to optimize queries, tune DB configurations, inform dev focus, plan for scaling.
  • Worked with dev to define projects to improve app code usage of database, caching layer; co-presented to leadership for approval into the tech backlog; supported dev in testing and measurement of implementation.
  • Established operational testing as a step in deploying new infrastructure; worked with QA members to implement.
  • Defined role of operational DBA; built relationships in support of role.
  • Upgraded MySQL to 5.6 across all environments: developed minimal-downtime plan; tested; executed plan within constraints of scheduling and resources.
  • Closed security hole; developed no-downtime plan to edit app and executed plan.
  • Supported dev teams in all things related to data and databases during feature development in a highly available and accessible manner.
  • Served as the SME for data storage on the department-wide stewards team.

Senior Database Administrator

PalominoDB, Las Vegas, Nevada - 2013

  • Remote DBA consultant for high-volume production environments. Upgrades, backups, replication, HA/failover, reviews and recommendations, documentation, queries, ETL/BI/reports, data warehousing, release support, monitoring configuration, emergency support, and on-call for MySQL 5.0 through 5.5, Percona, MariaDB, Amazon RDS, Redshift, Postgres, and SQL Server databases.

Database Engineer / Operational DBA

iContact, Morrisville, North Carolina - 2012-2013

  • Supported 100+ shards across 18 master-slave pair servers in a high-availability environment.
  • Improved production quality and stability; updated backup systems.
  • Led data migration project (data mapping, process modeling).
  • Developed upgrade process from MySQL 5.1 to Percona 5.5.
  • Set up proof-of-concept Mongo cluster for feature dev team.
  • Provided x-team support for systems administration and app/deliverability operations.

Manager, Database Engineering and Business Intelligence

iContact, Morrisville, North Carolina - 2011-2012

  • Transitioned individuals who had not been actively managed into a cohesive team.
  • Aggressively hired high-skill engineers to fill vacant positions.
  • Coached existing team members to high performance.
  • Established a BI presence throughout the company.
  • Audited and stabilized reporting processes.
  • Initiated drive to improve data integrity across the company.

Database Administrator, Team Lead

iContact, Durham, North Carolina - 2010-2011

  • Interviewed and trained new employees.
  • Led team in developing best practices.
  • Initiated data retention policy.
  • Maintained production databases.

Owner, Developer, Carrboro/Durham, North Carolina - 2001-2010

  • Full-time consultancy providing enterprise database development and full-stack website development.

Volunteer Experience

Book Reviewer

Packt Publishing - 2014 to current

  • Turkington, G., & Modena, Gabriele. (2015). Learning Hadoop 2. Birmingham, UK: Packt Publishing, Open Source.

Meetup Co-Organizer

Triangle MySQL Meetup - 2014 to current

  • The Triangle MySQL Meetup is based in Durham, in the heart of Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. We discuss a variety of topics about MySQL and the various forks, as well as adjacent technologies. Join us at

Registration Volunteer

Open Source 101, Raleigh, NC - 2017

Host, Database Track

All Things Open Conference - 2015

Competition Judge

Congressional App Challenge - 2016

Public Education Volunteer

Durham Public Schools - 2010 to current

  • Chaperone, Out-of-state trips
  • Band Boosters, Vice President of Operations
  • PTSA Board
  • Concessions Fundraiser Captain, Duke University Sports
  • Chocolate Sales Fundraiser Lead
  • Art Night Sales Fundraiser Lead
  • Science Fair Judge
  • Science Olympiad Volunteer
  • EOG Testing Proctor


Duplicate Indexes in MySQL

Using the MariaDB CONNECT Engine to Merge Heterogeneous Data Sources

New MySQL File System Vulnerabilities

Enabling InnoDB Compression

Using gh-ost for online schema changes

Data Encryption at Rest in Oracle MySQL 5.7

Data Encryption at Rest

MySQL Sounds Like Fun

Detecting Source of MySQL Queries with Comments

MySQL Query Profiling with Performance Schema

FAQs for Small Business Owners Starting a Website


Hands-on Docker Workshop

Triangle MySQL Meetup, January 10, 2018, Raleigh, North Carolina

Building a (Virtual) Sandbox: Hands-On Workshop

WITS Raleigh, November 11, 2017, Raleigh, North Carolina

Database Upgrade Testing: A DevOps Partnership

All Things Open, October 22, 2017, Raleigh, North Carolina


Building a (Virtual) Sandbox: Hands-On Workshop

WITS Denver, October 7, 2017, Denver, North Carolina

Experiences using gh-ost in a multi-tier topology

Percona Live, April 26, 2017, Santa Clara, California


Getting It Right: Online Schema Migration with gh-ost

M|17 MariaDB Conference, April 12, 2017, New York City, New York


MySQL Data Encryption at Rest

All Things Open, October 26, 2016, Raleigh, North Carolina


Using Data Encryption at Rest with MySQL

Triangle MySQL Meetup, March 8, 2016, Durham, North Carolina



Speaker, Pythian Night at uOttawa WISE

University of Ottawa Women in Science and Engineering, February 24, 2016, Ottawa, Ontario

Hands-on Lab: Using VirtualBox to Run Multiple MySQL Versions/Forks

Triangle MySQL Meetup, September 24, 2015, Durham, North Carolina


MySQL Wild Replication

Triangle MySQL Meetup, October 8, 2014, Durham, North Carolina

No Blocking, Blocker! An operational DBA’s thoughts on working with development.

Triangle DevOps Meetup, December 18, 2013, Durham, North Carolina




Google Certified Professional - Cloud Architect

Google Cloud Certified, License 11023940, Nov 2017 - Nov 2019;n5QAoE6EQyiMnobgDXkIdA%3D%3D

Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.6 Database Administrator

Jun 2017, Certificate:

M310: MongoDB Security

MongoDB, Inc.

LFS426: Linux Performance Tuning

Linux Foundation

  • certificate

MongoDB Certified DBA, Associate Level

MongoDB, Inc.

  • MongoDB, Inc., License 194-225-221

M102: MongoDB for DBAs

MongoDB University

  • certificate

Cassandra Training


  • Understanding the Cassandra Architecture

Administering Apache Hadoop

Hortonworks, San Francisco, California

Continuing Education, Math

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Calculus I/II/III Sequence

Continuing Education, Information Technology

Durham Technical Community College, Durham, North Carolina

  • Java, C/C++, Networking, Operating Systems

Continuing Education, Statistics

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  • Advanced Statistics, Qualitative Research

Bachelors of Science, Business Administration, Finance

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

  • Liberal Arts Curriculum with Major Degree Based on Economics, Finance, Statistics

STEM Boarding Magnet High School

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, Durham, North Carolina

Technical Skills

  • MySQL (InnoDB, Infobright; Percona Server, Enterprise; 5.0, 5.1, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7)
  • MariaDB 10.X
  • Amazon Web Services | RDS, EC2, S3, Redshift, Data Pipeline, RDS Tools
  • Data Migration from SQL Server
  • MySQL Sandbox
  • Hadoop/HDFS, Redis, MongoDB
  • Maat-Kit/Percona toolkit, Xtrabackup, Common Schema
  • LAMP stack, Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS; FreeBSD, Solaris
  • Nagios, PagerDuty (use and configuration)
  • VividCortex, New Relic, Graphite/Grafana, Cacti, MEM (use and configuration)
  • PHP, *sh , Perl, C
  • HTML, CSS, Javascript
  • Agile/Scrum, SaaS
  • VirtualBox, Vagrant, Docker
  • Atlassian Jira/Confluence (use and configuration)


See details and more recommendations at

  • Valerie is quite a valuable asset to have in your company. Anytime our group was working on a project that required her input, I always felt confident that we could rely on her expertise. On the rare occasion there was something she couldn’t answer outright, I could rest easy knowing she wouldn’t stop until we had what we needed to succeed. When interacting with Valerie, it is clear that she is passionate about her work and cares a great deal about seeing those around her succeed. If you want to ship a quality product, she is the kind of person you want in your corner. –Application Developer
  • Valerie is one of the best DBAs I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Not only does she show the ability to rapidly absorb and put new technology and practices to use, but she is reliable, a huge team player, and a true delight to work with. Valerie is a top notch operations and database engineer, period. –CEO
  • So often in business, you don’t see enough engagement or ownership. Valerie consistently rocked these key attributes. Beyond technical excellence in her knowledge domain (of which there was plenty), Valerie is a true generalist - she is happy and eager to learn anything and everything about the business and peripheral tech - who can also quickly and surgically rock the specialized case. This is the kind of energy and engagement I wish I could bottle and sell! –Director
  • I’ve really enjoyed working with Valerie. She has continually impressed me with both her technical skill and organizational acumen. Valerie has taken on additional responsibilities and risen to meet every challenge. She also excels at fostering a sense of community, working across teams to meet business goals. Valerie’s warm and engaging personality makes her a joy to work with, and her DBA ninja skills make her a valuable asset to any technical team she joins. –Systems Administrator

© 2001-2018 Valerie Parham-Thompson