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VMware's SpringSource to buy in-memory vendor GemStone

VMware's SpringSource will acquire in-memory database provider GemStone to add to its arsenal of cloud tools

By Joab Jackson, IDG News Service
May 06, 2010 05:11 PM ET

IDG News Service - VMware's SpringSource is acquiring database-caching software company GemStone Systems, the company announced Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

With this purchase, VMware will obtain a set of technologies and expertise to address one of the major bottlenecks in cloud computing, that of scaling databases.

"GemStone solves a really important problem: If you are building applications that need to scale out in the enterprise or move to the cloud, you need to scale your applications without major architectural changes. GemStone's technology has a proven capability of doing that," said Rod Johnson, general manager of the SpringSource division of VMware, itself an EMC company.

GemStone's flagship software is its GemFire Enterprise, an in-memory caching database for distributed platforms. In-memory databases work by storing the entire database within working memory, eliminating, or at least delaying, the time-intensive process of writing to and reading from a database on a disk.

"Basically what GemFire does is load live data into this middleware [layer], and Java applications interact with it in real time, as if it were a real data store. At the end of the day, that data is typically put back into a relational store or some sort of asynchronous end-of-day record," said Richard Lamb, president of GemStone.

As a result of this technique, "you get out of the box an order of magnitude improvement in performance," Lamb claimed.

The technology has gotten some use in the financial community already, running in commercial grid computing systems. The U.S. Defense Department has also used the technology for distributed command and control systems. Overall, the company has about 200 enterprise customers, Lamb said.

Although in-memory databases are offered by a wide variety of vendors, such as Oracle's TimesTen In-Memory database 11G, GemStone has the added advantage of running in a distributed architecture, rather than in a symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) one, Lamb said. This approach allows applications to be split across geographically dispersed data centers.

Such technology may help VMware in its pursuit of providing virtualization-based tools and services for the growing cloud-computing market.

Last year, VMware purchased Java platform software vendor SpringSource for US$362 million, and that company has since played a pivotal role in building out VMware's set of Java-based cloud tools, with its open-source Spring framework as well as its production-ready version of the Tomcat application server, tc Server.

Last month, SpringSource announced plans to acquire RabbitMQ, a vendor of messaging software, which would allow programs to be broken into components, also handy for a cloud environment.

As in the case of RabbitMQ, VMware is purchasing GemStone, though its products will be managed by SpringSource.

Last month, VMware kicked off a joint cloud service with Salesforce.com for running Java-based applications, called VMforce.

This GemStone technology is one approach to handling what is widely seen as one of the worst bottlenecks in cloud-computing systems, the relational database.

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