NorthScale (now Couchbase) Enters Market, Addresses Exploding Cost of Web Application Data Management

Company releases free distribution of memcached open source software, unveils family of scale-out data management solutions optimized for web applications and cloud computing environments

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – March 16, 2010– NorthScale, Inc., a Silicon Valley software startup, today introduced a new generation of elastic data infrastructure software, optimized for the data management requirements of modern web applications and cloud computing environments. The company was founded by leaders of the memcached open source project – a data infrastructure technology at the core of 18 of the top 20 most heavily trafficked websites, and thousands of others. Building on this foundation, the NorthScale Server family of products represents a new class of data management technology offering substantial cost, performance and scalability advantages over relational database technology, for the vast majority of data associated with web applications.

“Zynga’s FarmVille, Café World, Mafia Wars and other games have over 235 million active users per month. We rely on technology from NorthScale to make that possible,” said Cadir Lee, Chief Technology Officer at Zynga. “As long-time users and members of the memcached community, we have tremendous respect for the team at NorthScale. Our internal development work to extend memcached clearly matched with their vision and we’ve worked closely with the team through the development of NorthScale Membase Server. We expect to improve the performance and availability of our games while reducing hardware and administration costs as we continue to transition data from relational databases to NorthScale Membase technology.”

New class of data begs for new class of database technology

In a recent white paper*, IDC estimates that “in 2012, the amount of digital information produced in the year should equal nearly 2,500 exabytes [equivalent to 2,500 billion gigabytes], or 5 times that produced in 2008.” The white paper further identifies the growth of the Internet as a primary driver of this data explosion.

Today, web applications generate data at volumes far exceeding any other category of interactive software system, and for a much larger base of users. Much of this data, and the interaction patterns between software and data, differ fundamentally from those of transactional software systems such as payroll and ERP. In spite of the differences, relational database technology continues to be used as a “one size fits all” approach for both classes of software.

“Relational database technology has served us well for 40 years, and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future to support transactions requiring ACID guarantees. But a large, and increasingly dominant, class of software systems and data do not need those guarantees,” said Carl Olofson, Research Vice President with IDC. “Much of the data manipulated by Web applications have less strict transactional requirements but, for lack of a practical alternative, many IT teams continue to use relational technology, needlessly tolerating its cost and scalability limitations. For these applications and data, distributed key-value cache and database technologies such as NorthScale’s provide a promising alternative.”

“Relational database technology is intolerable overkill for the majority of data behind web applications – it’s like using an 18-wheeler when a delivery van will do the job,” said James Phillips, NorthScale Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. “NorthScale is providing the delivery van, introducing elastic data infrastructure software that is simple, fast, and infinitely scalable – matching the scale-out needs and architecture of modern web applications and compute clouds, and promising substantial reductions in related capital and operating costs.”

Introducing the NorthScale Server family of products

Introduced today, the NorthScale Server family of elastic data infrastructure software is designed to enable customers to start where they are, with existing relational database technology and expertise, and incrementally evolve toward a scale-out data architecture for their web applications. NorthScale products – NorthScale® Memcached Server™ and NorthScale® Membase Server™ – offer a practical, stepwise and seamless path forward.

First Step: NorthScale Memcached Server to Alleviate Database Load
NorthScale Memcached Server is an ideal starting point for IT teams adopting a scale-out data architecture for their web application and cloud computing infrastructures. NorthScale Memcached Server is an enhanced distribution of memcached, created and supported by the leading contributors to the memcached open source project. A distributed, in-memory caching technology, memcached is used alongside relational database technology – caching frequently used data, thereby reducing the number of database queries an application must perform. By augmenting versus replacing relational database technology, memcached is easy to adopt and offers immediate cost, performance and scalability benefits.

NorthScale has packaged memcached, making it easy to get, install and manage. The NorthScale Memcached Server is the only memcached distribution combining:

  • Secure application multi-tenancy – securely support multiple applications on a shared cluster
  • Dynamic cluster scaling – effortlessly expand a memcached cluster with automatic client updates
  • Browser-based cluster administration – easily monitor and manage a memcached cluster<
  • 100% "memcapable" certification – correctly and fully supports all protocols and operations
  • First-class support for both Linux and Microsoft Windows technologies

“Operating Korea's number one search portal, Naver.com; the number one children’s portal, Jr.naver.com; and the number one gaming portal, Hangame.com; NHN collectively serves nearly 70 million unique users," said Chang Song, Chief Performance Architect for NHN. "NorthScale Memcached Server will form the foundation of a shared data management infrastructure, supporting application development and production roll-out across divisions and business units. NorthScale’s multi-tenancy capabilities are particularly important in our environment. NHN is proud to have worked with NorthScale in the Open Source memcached community on both defining and implementing the facilities needed to support the expanding needs of our caching services.”

Next Step: NorthScale Membase Server for a Reliable, Persistent Database
NorthScale Membase Server is a high-performance, distributed key-value database that builds on the NorthScale Memcached Server foundation. Directly compatible with memcached APIs and existing client libraries, NorthScale Membase Server provides a place to store web application data far more efficiently and cost effectively than it can be stored in a relational database.

While memcached reduces the number of reads an application must do from the database, data is still ultimately stored in the relational database. Using NorthScale Membase Server an organization can identify and gradually "drain" data from a relational system to Membase, enjoying the simple, fast and infinite properties of memcached across both reads and writes, while slashing data management costs. NorthScale Membase Server provides:

  • Distributed key-value database – simple, fast, schema-free mechanism for storing data objects
  • Infinite scalability – just add more commodity servers to expand data and IO capacity<
  • Extremely high-performance – the speed of memcached for both reads and writes
  • Tunable persistence behavior – optimize write patterns to match application needs
  • Pluggable storage engine – store data on- or off-node, with user-replaceable storage subsystems
  • Fully configurable data replication – data-layer fault tolerance for continuous application ops

Pricing and Availability

NorthScale Memcached Server™ software is available free of charge and may be downloaded from the NorthScale website. Subscription-based pricing for comprehensive maintenance and support plans starts at $799/server/year.

NorthScale Membase Server™ is currently deployed in select customer environments and will be available for public beta testing soon - those interested in participating may register here. Product availability and pricing will be announced in Q2 2010.

NorthScale also offers a Developer Kit free of charge that can be downloaded here.

About NorthScale

NorthScale, Inc., the leading provider of elastic data infrastructure software, provides products that enable customers to dramatically lower costs while simultaneously improving the scalability and performance of their web applications. NorthScale is in production behind some of the world’s busiest web applications, including popular social games by Zynga, played by millions of users daily. It provides a shared data management platform for NHN, Korea’s largest web application operator with nearly 70 million unique users. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., NorthScale is a privately held company funded by Accel Partners and North Bridge Venture Partners.

* An IDC White Paper - sponsored by EMC. As the Economy Contracts, the Digital Universe Expands. May 2009