That's a far more fun version of this alternate title:

Massive database conversion complete

But that's the truth of it. Our own Tim Sabat undertook the journey. I'll attempt to explain it. We always have been, and still are, on Amazon Web Services. We use MySQL for our databases. Before this change, we purchased servers from AWS and just kinda did our own thing. The servers were configured to run MySQL and do a good job of it, but the management and backup of it all was all on us (read: Tim). We configured our own slaves, built our own snapshotting stuff, practiced emergency recovery situations... all that.

We were not using Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). That's Amazon's service specifically for databases. But now we are! That was the big conversion.

Hiring an Expert

It was tricky enough of a thing to pull off, that we hired Percona to help us out with it. We wanted some experts on hand to make sure everything was done correctly. Partly because not only were we moving database setups, but we also had a checklist of other stuff to fix. Some tables had character sets we wanted to change. There were some slow queries we wanted to fix. And we wanted to make sure you could save emoji's in there! The fact that you couldn't before was one of our most common support problems and a long standing issue here.

It's Done

Eight minutes of downtime is all it took, last week during the late night (here in the U.S).

Now that we are on RDS, it's more of a conventional setup, you could say. It's well documented. It's actually supported by Amazon, in a way our old hand-rolled system was not. If there is a disaster and the servers go down, RDS automatically fails over to standby system. Backups are automated (your data has never been safer). We could even run instances of the DB around the world (if we get to that level). We're basically in a much better and safer place. The weight of all this isn't as heavily on Tim's shoulders as it was. We can even start looking at future improvements for which RDS was a prerequisite.

But yeah, emoji's!

But of course, the most public-facing upgrade was the emoji thing. 😈

You can use them in comments, Posts, or even right in code in the editor itself. Rachel Smith demonstrates:

See the Pen Emoji!!!! On CodePen!! 💁 by Rachel Smith (@rachsmith) on CodePen.

We'll talk about all this in an upcoming podcast.