New Startups Tout Java, XML Gear

The market for Java and XML processors in the data center is heating up - and the startups have tasty names like Tangosol and Azul

July 22, 2004

3 Min Read
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As clustered servers running on desktop-class x86 processors become more common in data centers, more startup companies are emerging to sell add-on hardware and software to enhance the performance of Java and XML processing.

The x86 chips from companies like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) are good at low-latency tasks like running office suites and transaction processing, but they lack the ideal bandwidth for parsing emerging data center technologies such as Java and XML code, experts say.

The new generation of 64-bit server chips addresses this, but meanwhile many companies are working on custom products to plug the x86 gaps.

"That's really the direction, the general theme, that I think has been interesting," says Basil Horangic, a partner at venture capital firm Austin Ventures. Add-on processing hardware and software is a cyclical trend, and engineers realized it as far back as the 1960s, so Java and XML are just the latest drivers, he explains.

One such company is self-funded Tangosol Inc., in Somerville, Mass., which will launch software called Coherence 2.4 in the next few weeks, president Cameron Purdy says. Coherence performs in-memory processing of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: SUNW) Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE), which is software for making applications run over the Web. Java applications running in data centers don't scale linearly, so Coherence 2.4 will try to help by clearing its data cache faster, and a 3.0 version planned by the end of this year will include WAN clustering and global load balancing, Purdy says. Coherence costs $5,000 per CPU, with an average of 16 to 64 CPUs per installation, he adds.One of Tangosol's customers, Dealer.com Inc., hosts software and Websites for car dealerships across the U.S. "We had basic scaleability issues, and we were finding performance issues with doing direct database access," CTO Rick Gibbs says. Tangosol's product was the answer. "We'll definitely be looking into some of the WAN clustering."

Austin Venture's Horangic has backed other companies in the market, including Azul Systems Inc. and Conformative Systems Inc. Azul plans to remain in stealth mode until later this year, officials in Mountain View, Calif., say. The company is run by Stephen DeWitt, formerly of Cobalt Networks, which was sold to Sun for approximately $2 billion in 2000. Azul is working on an appliance for speedy Java and J2EE processing, people familiar with the company say.

Conformative, in Austin, is also building an appliance, called CSXi. It plans to launch the product in the first half of 2005, but how that will be targeted and sold is currently being reevaluated, according to company officials.

Established companies like DataPower Technology Inc., GemStone Systems Inc., and SpiritSoft Ltd. are also part of the trend. DataPower, of Cambridge, Mass., announced a new series of chips in May, called XG4, for acceleration processing. GemStone, in Beaverton, Ore., makes software, called Facets, for transactional Java development. SpiritSoft, of London, develops application integration and caching.

Evan Koblentz, Senior Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum0

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