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Big Blue rides Schooner to MySQL boost

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As countless crafty upstarts have learned time and again in the IT racket, it's tough to get a server vendor who makes a living peddling boxes to get excited about server appliances that get rid of banks of servers. But IBM has inked a deal with upstart Schooner Information Technology to resell its web-caching and MySQL-boosting appliances starting in early March.

As El Reg explained when Schooner came out of stealth mode last April, the company has created a multithreaded black-box clone of the open source Memcached web-caching program, one that can take advantage of the many cores and threads available in modern x64 server iron while supporting the same API set as the real Memcached and delivering about six times the throughput.

The company has also created an optimized version of the InnoDB 1.0.3 transactional storage engine for the MySQL database controlled (somewhat) by Sun Microsystems and soon by Oracle. This MySQL appliance runs MySQL 5.1 Enterprise Edition atop the InnoDB engine, which in turn is running in main memory and on flash drives in the appliance, offering about eight times the database performance of MySQL running on a two-socket server.

IBM is no stranger to Schooner, of course, since Schooner partnered with Big Blue to use its Xeon 5500-based System x3650 M2 servers as the hardware basis of the platform. Now that IBM is gearing up to resell the Schooner appliances, El Reg has learned that the appliance has two 2.8GHz Xeon X5560 processors from Intel, 64GB of DDR3 main memory, eight 64GB X25-E Extreme SATA solid state disks, and hard disks if customers want them. The appliance runs the CentOS clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, plus the Schooner Data Fabric, the special sauce in the appliance that is an operating environment that takes over the role of scheduling cores, threads, main memory, and flash memory from the operating system, which means Linux runs unmodified on the box. (This is another kind of server virtualization hypervisor.)

Big Blue did not say what it plans to charge for the Schooner appliances when it starts selling them on March 8, but Schooner itself is selling the appliance for $45,000 whether it's configured to run Memcached or MySQL. IBM's Global Services behemoth is also providing tech support for the appliances.

The IBM reseller agreement comes just as Schooner - and more likely its venture backers - have tapped someone from the outside to be president and chief executive officer of the company.

Schooner was founded in February 2007 by John Busch, who was the technologist behind the HP 3000 minicomputer line and who eventually ran the Sun Labs research arm of Sun Microsystems, and Tom McWilliams, who was a supercomputer designer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and who also spent some time at Amdahl, Silicon Graphics, Sun, and PathScale. The two captured $15m in Schooner's first round of funding from CMEA Capital and Redpoint Ventures, and in July 2009 Schooner lined up $20m in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures with CMEA Capital and Redpoint Ventures kicking in some dough once again.

The new president and CEO at Schooner is Jerry Rudisin, who is best known as the vice president of marketing at Rational Software, which grew from a $28m private company to a $412m public company while he was there and which was acquired by IBM in 2002 for $2.1bn. Since that time, Rudisin has been president and CEO of NightFire, a telecom software supplier, and Agitar Software, a Java application provider, that were both sold after he took the helm. Are you sensing a theme here?

Schooner co-founder Busch has become chairman and chief technology officer. McWilliams is now simply a co-founder and fellow, according to his current bio. ®

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