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TransLattice updates new Postgres database

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May 14, 2014

Database upstart TransLattice has pushed out a new free version of the Postgres DB, based on technology that it acquired from StormDB.

The company claims the software is ideal for supporting modern web-based applications, and similar needs.

TransLattice says that the new database, dubbed Postgres-XL, has extreme online transaction processing scalability and massively parallel processing analytics.

Like MySQL, PostgreSQL is one of the most widely used open-source relational databases, and is seen by many as a good alternative to more-basic systems such as MariaDB.

The Postgres-XL database was announced by TransLattice yesterday, and it incorporates know-how from its recent acquisition, StormDB.

StormDB was one of the major contributors to the Postgres-XC project, which is described as a "multi-master write-scalable PostgreSQL cluster based on shared-nothing architecture."

Postres-XL has been built to have the desirable characteristics of Postgres-XC, but fewer of its issues, TransLattice explained.

"In the case of Postgres-XC, a core difference is if you need to join data on one table on one node with another table on another node, it will ship everything to the coordinator where the session originated from."

"When joining two large tables, it's going to ship everything to one single table, so in some cases Postgres-XC performs worse than Postgres," explained TransLattice's chief architect Mason Sharp.

"In the case of Postgres-XL, the node knows exactly where the end-user data is stored, and all communicate with one another so when a query comes in it's parsed and planned once on a coordinator, then serialized and sent down to all other nodes."

TransLattice cofounder Michael Lyle said about two to three developers would work on Postgres-XL as their main project, along with contributions from the development team behind TransLattice's commercial TED database.

"Overall, Postgres is a great general purpose open source database, and we've taken that and expanded it and allowed you to expand it on multiple nodes," explained Sharp. "It does a pretty good job on write- scalability. I think that's pretty unique. It's also nice for mixed workloads."

Postgres consulting firm OpenSCG has agreed to recommend the software when talking to enterprise customers, and TransLattice tells us that it's in discussions with several potential users involved in advertising and telephony.

We wondered how the technology may differ from WebScaleSQL, a new MySQL-based relational database that is being developed by Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Both databases have superficially similar goals, though WebScaleSQL has more of an emphasis on scale-out deployment, while Postgres-XL is geared mostly towards analytics.

"WebScaleSQL isn't a clustered database, but instead a set of changes to MySQL to allow its production use at greater scales," Lyle explained. "The users of WebScaleSQL, like Facebook, divide their information between many WebScaleSQL/MySQL instances at the application layer."

"This requires significant application logic to keep everything coherent and uses a lot of developer time. In contrast, Postgres-XL provides a single large relational database across many servers, providing both excellent write scalability (for OLTP), and the ability to run sophisticated queries across the entire dataset in parallel," he added.

Additionally, more people seem to use Postgres than other database upstarts such as MongoDB, so it'll be fascinating to see how this project develops.

If TransLattice is good to its word and puts developers behind it and some independent benchmarks justify its performance, it could be an exciting project. We'll keep you posted.

In other IT news

Some IT industry analysts are wondering if Salesforce.com's decision to acquire Heroku was a good idea in the first place.

Why would a big SaaS company like SalesForce.com with its own development platform need a PaaS play like Heroku?

The eternally-enthusiastic company has just spelled out why, and how, it thinks the two will work together.

The business model is straightforward-- developers building apps for employees will do it on Force.com and developers building apps for consumers will do it on Heroku.

The concept seems to be that Heroku can take care of all the heavy lifting required to deliver a web app at scale.

Force.com retains its role as the place to do custom app development for your team and the new connector pipes data between the two with sufficient speed.

However, in the background things aren't that simple. Salesforce.com lives on Oracle software. Heroku relies on its own version of Postgres. So they offer rather different environments for developers, and that could pose some issues down the road.

Salesforce.com is also being a bit loosy-goosy on data centre arrangements-- let's hope they've got Force.com and Heroku as physically close as possible so that latency doesn't cause some delays during data transfers between the two platforms.

Salesforce is saying that the formal release of the Heroku Connector will enhance its overall proposition by making it possible to feed customer-generated data into apps that run business processes.

But in the recent past, that hasn't been that easy since you code your entire business by hand, either as a startup or a business colossus, with probably more developers than you really need.

However, there's a bit of truth in that concept. It's probably also not far from reality to suggest that what Salesforce has done is build middleware-as-a-service to link the two divergent parts of its platform.

In a strange manner that's a sign of maturity-- most big IT companies have middleware 'bridges' here and there somewhere.

In other IT news

Last week, Hewlett-Packard announced its HP Helion brand and pledged to commit no less than $1 billion over the next two years on products and services surrounding OpenStack, under the Helion brand name.

In addition to offering its free distribution of OpenStack, HP is putting all its other cloud offerings, including tools for workload management and software development, under the Helion name as well.

As IT industry analysts digest last week's news from HP, it is becoming clear that the company is very serious about committing its company strategy to OpenStack.

Its plans include evolving its own editions of the platform, delivering a Cloud Foundry-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and HP even intends to protect customers from Open-Stack-related patent infringement claims.

Now that last issue is a big one, and it has more than one observer shaking heads. Many enterprises are aware of the patent infringement claims that regularly get slapped on open source platforms such as Android and OpenStack. And HP is no different.

However, it's important to note that the company has some other advantages in the OpenStack race.

For one thing, it's a proven hardware provider and although Dell also sells hardware, it has backed out of the public OpenStack cloud race.

That means that HP has an equal opportunity to be a big player in the hardware/software bundles that will eventually arrive in the OpenStack arena, sooner rather than later.

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And, as we've noted numerous times, players in the OpenStack arena are going to be differentiated by what kind of support they can offer, and HP has a lot of experience supporting enterprise users.

That means it can compete directly with solid support providers like Red Hat. It seems that Dell, which has been erratic in its commitment to OpenStack, is watching HP's OpenStack moves closely.

"In what amounts to a denominational spat between two adherents of the open-source community, Dell, the privately held computing giant founded by Michael Dell, issued a statement ahead of HPs Web conference, chiding HPs plan to offer a commercial version of OpenStack in addition to the free Community version."

"Anyone choosing HPs commercial version runs the risk of having a hard time switching to another vendor if they later decide to make a change," it said.

As we've reported last week, HP is offering a broad set of services surrounding OpenStack.

It's looking more and more like HP wants to get out of various low margin businesses that it is in, and tie its future to OpenStack and the cloud.

It will be interesting to watch whether the company preserves open practices and standards as it goes forward with that strategy.

Source: Postgres.

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