News Article | December 22, 2007
In writing earlier on IBM's acquisition of Solid Information Technology, I failed to remember a key piece of trivia. Solid used to employ Marten (1995-97). Marten's experience at Solid is hilarious in retrospect: When [Monty Widenius] started MySQL, I worked for this other small database company, Solid Information Technology. I told Monty that his project was just going to fail, and that it was a stupid thing to do, and that he didn't have a chance because we had a chance. GM: What was your view of the Free Software world when you were at Solid--were you even aware of it? MM: I was getting more aware of it, and I was getting excited about it. At Solid, I drove an initiative of not open-sourcing the product, but making it very popular on the Linux platform--and that was why I was an advertiser in Linux Journal, because we were the leading Linux database in the world in 1996. We gave it away free of charge, so we had taken a step in that direction. Then Solid decided to cancel the project and just focus on high-end customers, and that's when I left the company. So in that sense, when I got to MySQL, I had some unfinished business. By that time, I had completely bought into the notion of code being open. I'm betting Solid has regretted Marten's departure ever since. As for Marten...? It was a great move on his part. Marten isn't sweating about IBM's acquisition. Someone within the company sent me the text of an email he sent around to MySQL employees yesterday. Here's a pertinent excerpt that is classic Marten: Indeed. If MySQL can't beat IBM on its own turf, it doesn't deserve to be in business. But it is in business, and everything I've heard points to an outstanding quarter. MySQL is rising and I doubt potshots from Oracle or IBM will be able to halt its rise at this point. As if you could kill a dolphin by swallowing an ocean, as Marten might say....
News Article | December 22, 2007
First it was Oracle buying Innobase(though Oracle has so far played fair). Now it's IBM buying Solid Information Technology. Given much of the proprietary world's public attitude toward open source ("Open source a threat? What's open source?), it's surprising that IBM would even bother to hedge its bets against MySQL. After all, who's afraid of little MySQL? I mean, who besides everyone with a database business that depends on lock-in, overpriced licenses, and 20th Century software? Matthew Aslett doesn't think this was targeted at MySQL, and he's likely right. But it impacts MySQL all the same, as the New York Times writes: The IBM acquisition may be seen as a setback for MySQL, since it marks the loss of independence of another company that makes a high-performance transaction engine for MySQL's database.... ...[Solid...joined MySQL's storage engine certification program and released an open source version of its database engine for MySQL. IBM did not say in its statement if it would continue to develop the MySQL product. However, MySQL is also developing its own transaction engine, so in the long term it will be less dependant on partners. Called Falcon, the engine is due to ship with MySQL 6.0, which is due for wide release late next year. I suspect that this will be the response of most open-source companies: perhaps they'll start by leveraging other's open-source components, but over time they'll build out these components themselves to avoid proprietary vendors buying their way into the open-source companies' stacks. This actually suggests a very good argument for pushing more open-source projects into vendor-neutral organizations like the Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla, and Eclipse to avoid being "InnoDB'd." Which projects are perhaps under threat? Spring and Hibernate are the top-two that come to my mind, but surely there are others. This is unfortunate, but I suppose it's part of open source growing up and becoming part of a highly competitive industry. Peace, love, and brutal competition. Bring it on.
News Article | June 5, 2008
IBM has joined the in-memory database (IMDB) party after launching the IBM solidDB, which it claims will deliver data 10 times faster than a conventional relational database. It is worth noting that in memory databases are not new technology, and IBM makes no secret of the fact that it has used the technology from Finnish company Solid Information Technology, which it acquired back in December 2007. Solid made a name for itself selling an embedded database with an in-memory database engine (IMDB), which meant it could store and retrieve data from main memory, giving faster performance than traditional disk-based systems. This has made IMDBs popular for applications that require very fast processing times, such as routing calls in a phone network or trading stocks. IBM solidDB version 6.1 can be deployed as a cache to IBM's main relational database products, namely DB2 and Informix Dynamic Server (IDS). Alternatively, it can also be deployed as a standalone in-memory database. Because it keeps data in main memory, IBM claims that solidDB support tens of thousands of transaction per second with microsecond response times. To use solidDB as a cache for DB2 or IDS, the user identifies a set of database tables that would benefit from faster access. For example, the user may select only ten performance critical tables such as shopping cart management etc. Once these tables are specified in a schema in DB2 or IDS, the solidDB connector can load the data from DB2 or IDS and make it available to applications at "extreme speed." Scale is achieved in that solidDB cache can be partitioned across multiple servers. For example a large customer database containing 1 million customers can be partitioned into four solidDB Cache instances (each storing 250,000 customers). Reliability is promised thanks to a two node, hot standby configuration, which allows solidDB to maintain two copies of data that is synchronised at all times between the solidDB nodes. "We offer high availability," said Paola Lubet, director of product marketing for IBM solidDB. "It can operate on two node environment, and transactions can shift over to second node in case of hardware failure, in less than one second." But there is no doubt that IBM's rivals have already been involved in the IMDS market for some time now. Oracle, for example, acquired Solid Information Technology competitor TimesTen back in June of 2005. Open source IMDB competitors also exist, such as FastDB, MonetDB, H2, and HSQLDB. However, some feel that IBM;s late entry to this market is not much of a setback. "With acquisitions you cannot such flip a switch," said Carl Olofson, Research VP, Information Management and Data Integration Software Research, at analyst house IDC. "In truth, the IMDB market is actually still very immature." He estimates that IMDB occupies only somewhere between 0.5 to 1 percent of the total database market. "IMDBs are a means to an end initially," Olofson continued, pointing out that IMDBs should not be viewed as a replacement for enterprise databases. "It is only in certain circumstances when IMDBs are a requirement. It is a means to an end, and fills out a vendor's data management portfolio." IBM's IMDB product is scheduled to ship on 24 June, but IBM refuses to disclose pricing at this stage. Traditionally, IMDB have been on the expensive side, but Lubet insists that this is no longer the case. "We are not disclosing pricing per se," Lubet told Techworld. "But we are cheaper than disk-based databases from some enterprise market leaders." Indeed she claims that in some cases the IBM offering is 30 to 40 percent cheaper.
News Article | December 21, 2007
Solid makes an embedded database with an in-memory database engine, which means it can store and retrieve data from main memory, giving faster performance than traditional disk-based systems. That makes it popular for applications that require very fast processing times, such as routing calls in a phone network or trading stocks. Solid's customers include Cisco, Siemens, TeliaSonera and Nokia. IBM expected the deal to be closed in the first quarter of 2008. It said the deal would enhance its database line-up by adding real-time data access capabilities. The IBM acquisition may be seen as a setback for MySQL, since it marks the loss of independence of another company that makes a high-performance transaction engine for MySQL's database. Two years ago Oracle bought Innobase, which made the most popular MySQL transaction engine. Oracle continues to license InnoDB to MySQL, but the acquisition prompted MySQL to look for alternatives. One of those was Solid, which joined MySQL's storage engine certification program and released an open source version of its database engine for MySQL. However, MySQL is also developing its own transaction engine, so in the long term it will be less dependant on partners. Called Falcon, the engine is due to ship with MySQL 6.0, which is due for wide release late next year.
News Article | October 28, 2008
IBM has extended its solidDB database acceleration cache software to work with non-IBM databases. SolidDB was launched in June this year and, at the time, worked with Informix Dynamic Server (IDS) and IBM DB2 databases. On Monday, IBM announced support for Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and Sybase as well. According to IBM, applications running with the cache can generate workload speeds of more than 120,000 transactions per second. The aim is to provide the ability to "support growing numbers of users and data volumes", the company said in a statement. The main advantage of the cache is that accessing performance-critical data from one of the supported disk-based databases is much faster, as it can be accessed from RAM rather than having to go to the disk, IBM said. "In January, we acquired Solid Information Technology and, shortly thereafter, released solidDB Cache for DB2 and Informix Dynamic Server," said Arvind Krishna, vice president of data management at IBM. "Today, we are announcing that the extreme speed capabilities of solidDB will be available to an even larger number of businesses, allowing them to process their growing data volumes faster than ever before." IBM solidDB Universal Cache will be generally available in December, with support for DB2, IDS, Oracle and Sybase, the company said. Support for Microsoft SQL Server will follow in the first quarter of 2009, according to IBM. IBM has not released any information on price at this stage.