Terracotta announced Tuesday the general availability of Ehcache 2.2, software that allows a database cache to run in the application server for a faster response time compared to databases running elsewhere on a network. Dynamic in-memory data caching, as it's called, eliminates bottlenecks when trying to introduce virtualization or cloud computing into an IT environment because traditional databases aren't easily virtualized.
"While the application resources like CPU and memory are very flexible, the database is not flexible," says Amit Pandey, CEO of Terracota. "The architecture of the database was never really designed to take advantage of in-memory footprints. It's had 25 years of development in a non-cloud non-virtual environment."
In-memory caching is essential for enterprises to make the best use of virtualization and cloud computing by bringing along their databases, said Mike Gualtieri, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. "Traditional relational database management systems such as Oracle's scale up to larger hardware rather than scaling out to multiple instances," Gualtieri said. "So, if you are trying to use the cloud to scale your application you could quickly become stuck because you cannot scale your data." Before Ehcache 2.2, enterprises had to choose which parts of their databases they wanted to make available in memory chunks of a couple hundred gigabytes. With Ehcache's 1TB of capacity, they can replicate all of their data, Pandey said.
Ehcache's main competitor is Oracle's Coherence product, which, while a worthy competitor, is more expensive and harder to configure than Terracotta's. "Coherence tends to be a little more cumbersome to use," Pandey said, adding that while Coherence works with a variety of databases, it works best with Oracle databases and some customers are wary of Oracle vendor lock-in. Ehcache, because it is open source, can work easily with many databases, including IBM's DB2, Microsoft's SQL and Oracle. A basic version of Ehcache 2.2. is free, while a commercial version with more features plus a service contract is available for a price, which is the typical business model for an open source software company.
Terracotta and Oracle share the leader's circle, along with offerings from IBM and GigaSpaces, according to a Forrester report published in May on the Elastic Caching Platforms space. The "Forrester Wave" report identifies Terracotta Ehcache and IBM's WebSphere eXtreme Scale as the challengers to the established players in elastic data caching, Oracle Coherence and the GigaSpaces eXtreme Application Platform product.