Exploring the Information Driven Economy
Speed in the world of database management software has never gone out of style. Vendors of all stripes continue, as they have for decades, to sashay benchmarks down the runway, and whisper into the ears of DBAs and developers that their database, based on the latest, must-have fierce technology, laps that other kitsch database.
Much speed-related attention has been paid to NoSQL (“Not Only SQL”) databases over the past several years centering on analytics use cases. In the case of analytics, read-only optimized, scale-up and/or scale-out, shared nothing, columnar couture was able to turn-up its nose at staid transactional ACID databases that comparatively-speaking crawled.
But no more, as FoundationDB and Starcounter proved this week in the latest database fashion show in San Jose – ACID databases are back, the new black, and this time they are zooming past the read-only crowd while still ensuring that all data reaches its intended destination. Two relatively new database suppliers, FoundationDB and Starcounter, are grabbing attention because of their fleetness and assuredness.
FoundationDB’s Easy Big Step towards Transactional NoSQL
Though FoundationDB has been around for four years, and in alpha and beta stages for the past 18 months, this week was its true debut because of the release of the initial production version. FoundationDB understood that with the plethora of databases out there offering try-before-you-buy options, they needed to lower the barrier to access even further. Therefore, with this initial release not only does FoundationDB offer a free “community version,” but will let you run up to six processes in production for free – forever. After that, the database costs $99/server process per month. FoundationDB’s stated “goal is to be the easiest database company to do business with…” and the “free production” angle should entice NoSQL community developers.
In terms of technology, FoundationDB’s main differentiator is an abstracted, layered storage engine, a bifurcated architectural approach not dissimilar directionally from Oracle Database 12c and IBM DB2 with BLU Acceleration. FoundationDB uses an ordered key-value pair model, and when that is mixed with its layering technique, FoundationDB may act as a, for example, a columnar database, or a transactional database, because the “magic comes when you mix in true ACID transactions. This allows the indexing layer to update both the data and the index in a single transaction, ensuring their consistency.” FoundationDB’s approach for developers is API-driven, versus query language-driven, and it delivers several enterprise-class features such as scale-out and fault tolerance.
Starcounter Counters with ACID Speed and Single Server for Real-Time
Relatively mature seven-year old Stockholm-based Starcounter marched out its version 2.0 beta at the show. The Starcounter database eschews classic scale-up and scale-out, and rather aims to squeeze the greatest possible velocity from a single server through optimal use of memory and virtualization – what Starcounter refers to as VMDBMS (Virtual Machine Database Management System). Need more “scale” from your Starcounter database? Add memory and cores, rather than physical nodes. Starcounter’s database appeals to real-time use cases, such as ERP, ad serving, telecommunications, banking, and other transactional high-flyers. Starcounter talks about “speed” in the context of “millions of [ACID] transactions per second.” Good luck getting your open source-based, non-ACID NoSQL databases, regardless of how many nodes you throw at it, to even conceive of that level of performance.
Starcounter 2.0 beta, armed with the recent VMDBMS patent, aims to make web and mobile app development far easier by adding a “web platform” to its solution, which includes support for de facto standard JSON and REST web APIs. The beta also includes support for mirrored MVVM (Model View View Model) which should considerably cut the lines of code required for web and mobile app UI development. Starcounter’s value proposition, thus, is less coding, blazing performance, and more simple hardware configuration because of the single server approach – fast development, fast database, fast spin-up, and ACID. Starcounter also offers an easy on-ramp for DBAs and developers with a free trial license that never expires, and offers a list commercial perpetual license at $6,000 per core, with flexibility for volume and enterprise licensing.
Database Innovation Remains in Style
FoundationDB and Starcounter flaunt the fact that the database industry remains in a stunning period of innovation. The NoSQL movement pushed the well-established database suppliers like Oracle, IBM, SAP, Teradata, and Microsoft – all of whom have responded to various degrees. Now we see the next generation of more transaction-friendly speedsters playing hare to the first generation NoSQL database turtles. While DBAs and developers may feel sometimes like they are lost in a whir of fresh database fashion, the racks filled with competing ready-to-wear databases will continue to keep customer-friendly pressure on prices and performance, and to produce databases better able to meet emerging application patterns.