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Schooner adds DR to SQL and cache appliances

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Schooner Information Technology came out of stealth mode a year ago with its Memecached caching and MySQL acceleration appliances, which are tuned for multithreaded servers and which allow companies to consolidate anywhere from five to ten x64 servers running these workloads down to one Schooner appliance. The trouble is, companies love that kind of consolidation, but putting so many apps in one hardware basket makes them downright jumpy.

And so Schooner's propellerheads have cooked up their own homegrown high availability and disaster recovery systems software to work in conjunction with the appliance, which is based on rebadged versions of IBM's System x3650 M2 two-socket Xeon 5500/5600 servers and a whole lot of main memory and either 512 GB or 1 TB of flash capacity, compliments of Intel's X25E SSDs. The secret sauce is the Schooner Operating Environment, or SOE, which used to be called the Data Fabric API last year.

This is the add-on to Linux that Schooner has created that mashes up the cores and threads in the Xeon processors and the main memory and flash drives and controls access to threads and memory and interleaves them in a more efficient manner than a typical Linux box can do. This SOE does not modify the Linux kernel itself, but creates very efficient and thread-aware userspaces for Schooner's own blackbox, reverse-engineered, Memecached clone or Oracle's MySQL Enterprise Edition database (which it licenses from Oracle) to run.

Schooner is adding RAID data protection to the flash drives in the appliance, and it has also created its own software for replicating, backing up, and restoring copies of caches or databases running on the appliances. Having such features was something that early customers wanted, says Jerry Rudisin, who was tapped to be president and CEO at Schooner earlier this year after IBM inked a reseller agreement with the company. (So IBM is reselling a box that it already makes?)

Rudisin was head of marketing at Rational Software before IBM shelled out $2.1bn to acquire it in 2002. Depending on the workload, repopulating a cache can take many hours, so replication and backup/restore are necessary features for enterprise customers who can't take that kind of downtime. In some cases, customers also want to make a cache persistent (as oxymoronic as that might seem), so Schooner has tweaked its SOE code to allow this as well.

The Memecached clone being peddled by Schooner is now recertified as "memcapable," which is a certification that other caches go through to ensure they support all of the APIs of the open source memcached variants out there. The Schooner Memcached supported the ASCII protocol of memcached when it was announced last year, but now it has been certified to support the more efficient binary protocol.

The Memecached on the Schooner appliance has also been tweaked so it can be used as a NoSQL key-value persistent store for those applications - like storing cookies for users of Web sites - where all of the stringent data and transactional qualities of a database are not necessary and speed is. Storing this kind of data in a MySQL database can really slow down performance, and quite frankly, how annoying is it when a Web site loses your cookie?

Finally, the Schooner Appliances now have a command line interface that is an homage to the IOS systems software on routers and switches from Cisco Systems.

Pricing on the Schooner appliances remains the same at $45,000 per appliance, whether you want the MySQL, Memecached, or now the NoSQL persistent store versions. ®

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