Cloud computing and Web 2.0 applications put a severe strain on datacenters, most of which were built for less demanding in-house and Web 1.0 apps. Faster servers and higher-capacity storage hardware, along with software innovations such as virtualization, have helped datacenter operators meet escalating service demands while saving floor space and putting a dent in overall energy consumption. However, situated squarely between your Web servers and your storage appliances are oft overlooked drivers of costly, complex hardware sprawl: caching and database appliances, charged with handling meaty data transactions.
Consider for a moment just how much more complicated and abundant today's Web application data is compared to that of yesteryear, as more companies rely on media-rich Web pages and modern e-commerce applications. Even with high-speed app servers and high-capacity storage arrays, app performance remains constrained by the limitations of the hardware that isn't well optimized to handle database and caching duties. Datacenter operators have little choice but to toss more underutilized servers into the mix to handle transactional duties.
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Lo, a promising solution to the problem has emerged from startup Schooner Information Technology: a forthcoming line of data-access appliances groomed to optimize application performance at the database (for MySQL) and caching (for Memcached) tiers. Specifically geared for Web 2.0 and cloud computing datacenters, the Schooner Appliances, according to the company, can provide eight times the performance of traditional servers while using just one-eighth the power and space.
Yes, those are impressive claims, and it's tempting to swallow them with a shake of salt. Then again, Schooner appears to have the brainpower to devise such appliances. Its co-founders are Dr. John Busch, previously the director of computer system architecture and analysis at Sun, and Dr. Tom McWilliams, previously a distinguished engineer at Sun, as well as founder of successful startups such as PathScale. Moreover, Schooner has backing from none other than IBM, which has signed on to manufacture, build, sell, and support the appliances.