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Xeround's cloudy MySQL database goes freemium

Rejiggers pricing, puffs up on other clouds

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Xeround, a startup with experience in making scalable database management systems for telcos and service providers, vaulted itself into the cloudy database business last June with the launch of its eponymous database service running atop Amazon's EC2 service. Now it is tweaking the product's packaging and pricing to make it more appealing to a larger number of customers.

The Xeround database is a service, not a product you can buy on a CD and spin up on your own iron. Xeround takes the popular open source MySQL database, controlled by Oracle (the center of gravity in the database world), and puts a homegrown scalable distributed database engine underneath it.

MySQL, as Reg readers well know, has a number of different database storage engines that can be used behind the database management system. InnoDB is a popular one that was taken over by Oracle even before it bought Sun Microsystems two years ago and gained control of MySQL proper.

There are about a dozen of these MySQL engines in the wild – and for the past six months, since the debut of Xeround 1.0, there has been one more.

But Xeround is more than just another pretty database storage engine. It is a bit funky in that it is based on a number of NoSQL database technologies, such as a distributed hash table, distributed Btrieve (for data access), and distributed object store, that are turned into a MySQL engine. Moreover, this storage engine runs inside of a virtual machine container, which is unusual, and is architected so that multiple virtual engines can be clustered together to – here's the magic part – present a single image of the underlying Xeround database engine to MySQL.

The upshot is that a Xeround service can automagically and seamlessly add database processing capacity to MySQL databases without resorting to clustering at a higher level in the software stack or modifying applications.

This all sounds particularly juicy to customers, Xeround CEO Razi Sharir tells El Reg.

But not everyone has a need for the full-tilt-boogie Xeround database service. And, moreover, not everyone actually buys cloudy server capacity on a true utility model even though this is one of the big benefits of "the cloud". They are used to buying chunks of capacity, whether it is a physical server or the right to use software for a particular user or machine, and budgeting for these monthly and annually. And, as many companies do to promote their wares, Xeround also needed to get a freebie version of the product out there to help seed a crop of future potential paying customers.

So on Tuesday, Xeround revealed that it is doing a few things. First, it is breaking its product line into three bits, and also offering various price bands for the service without metering capacity. "We are adjusting to market needs, as any startup does," says Sharir.

The original Xeround 1.0 database service – announced back in June atop Amazon EC2 infrastructure clouds in the United States and Europe and on Salesforce.com's Heroku platform cloud – is now called Xeround Pro. Xeround buys capacity on these clouds and then charges customers 12 cents per gigabyte per hour for storing data in the Xeround service and another 46 cents per gigabyte for data transfers into and out of the database.

That price includes email and web support for the database service, daily backup, and automatic scaling of database services. If you want 24x7 premium support or high availability clustering across clouds, that's extra.

The Xeround Pro service was available as a 30-day free trial, and is still available that way. However, the pay-per-use pricing is now $75 per month per database, minimum, plus 21 cents per gigabyte per hour for data storage and 43 cents per gigabyte of data transferred into the database.

Xeround Pro has 300 paying customers, according to Sharir. It had over 2,000 beta testers last year.

There's now a variant called Xeround Free, which allows companies to sign up and use the database service atop Amazon EC2 clouds in the United States, and use it forever as long as they keep their database underneath 10MB in size. That's not a particularly large database, but Sharir tells El Reg that most database trials have limits of between 5MB and 10MB.

Xeround Free will probably be expanded to other EC2 regions eventually, but Xeround is not saying.

The Xeround Basic edition of the database service splits the difference between free and pay-per-use. There are two flavors. For databases that are between 10MB and 100MB in size, you can buy the Xeround Basic service for $17 per month per database, regardless of the amount of traffic going into and out of that database. And if you have a database that ranges in size from 101MB to 250MB, then the Xeround Basic service costs $33 per month per database. "This pretty much covers a lot of the market," says Sharir.

Xeround has rolled out its database service on top of Rackspace Hosting's Cloud in the US and Europe, and Sharir tells El Reg that the plan is to get it up and running soon on three more infrastructure clouds and on three other platform clouds, to give customers more choices. ®

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