VoltDB OLTP database exits beta

The brainchild of database luminary Michael Stonebraker is an open-source option for large-scale transaction processing

VoltDB, a new open-source database for large-scale transaction processing, emerged from beta on Tuesday.

VoltDB was co-founded by longtime database industry figure Michael Stonebraker. Its origin stems from the H-Store project, a collaborative effort by Brown University, Yale University, HP Labs, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Stonebraker is an adjunct professor.

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The company is aiming VoltDB at companies like financial trading firms and Web businesses, which have massive and constantly growing amounts of transactions, according to a statement.

Traditional databases lose vast amounts of performance to system overhead issues such as logging and buffer management, the company said. VoltDB's approach cuts the overhead while maintaining adherence to the ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability) concepts for database transaction integrity, as well as preserving the ability of developers to use SQL, according to a statement.

VoltDB places information in memory rather than reading and writing it from disks, increasing performance. Data is partitioned and distributed to every CPU core in the server or server cluster, taking advantage of the ever-increasing number of cores on commodity servers, VoltDB said.

For high availability, data is automatically replicated, and failed nodes recover data by tapping replicas on active ones. It is also possible to save snapshots of the database as a backup or for analysis with other tools, VoltDB said.

In terms of scalability, VoltDB "is regularly tested on and tuned for clusters of 3 to 12 nodes and has been successfully run on a cluster of 20 nodes," but there is no architectural limit to the size of a cluster, the company said in a FAQ.

VoltDB is generally available worldwide in an open-source, GPL-licensed Community Edition, as well as via subscription. Pricing for the latter option begins at US$15,000 per year for a four-node cluster installation.

Subscribers get a commercial license and support, as well as additional premium features coming later this year, such as management and monitoring tools, according to a spokesman.

The company is off to a promising start but the product needs maturity, one observer said.

VoltDB "reduces the architectural and programmatic effort involved in scalable [online transaction processing], but not to zero," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research.

(Chris Kanaracus can be reached at Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com.)

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