ScalArc adds cloud and VM options to its database-clustering software

Analyst: Matt Aslett
Date: 13 Jul 2011
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ScalArc recently introduced version 2.0 of its iDB database-clustering and load-balancing software, adding support for Amazon’s Relational Database Service (RDS) and MySQL on VMware and Xen virtual machines, in addition to the existing appliance for on-premises MySQL.

The 451 take

We have noted that ScalArc’s ability to maintain compatibility with existing MySQL deployments was likely to go down well with users that had heavy investments in MySQL but were struggling for performance. The adoption of iDB for Amazon EC2/RDS demonstrates that the value of iDB lies beyond simply improving the performance of existing applications. It is simple to configure the database cluster management offering and we also see value in the live SQL analytics capabilities, which enable users to identify and respond to database performance issues.

When we last spoke with ScalArc at the beginning of the year, the company was on the brink of landing the first paying customer for its iDB database-clustering and load-balancing appliance for Oracle’s MySQL database and was planning to expand beyond the appliance form factor with options for VM- and cloud-based deployments. With version 2.0 of iDB, the company has fulfilled the latter goal, launching iDB for Amazon’s MySQL-based RDS and for VMware/Xen. ScalArc has also updated its appliance family: the iDB 1000 supports up to one million transactions per minute with a 10-20GB cache; the iDB 2000 supports up to two million transactions per minute with a 20-40GB cache; and the iDB 4000 supports up to four million transactions per minute with a 60-120GB cache.

The Mumbai, India-based company has also landed its first paying production customers, three of which are using the original iDB appliance for on-premises MySQL, and two of which are using iDB for Amazon EC2/RDS. ScalArc also claims further ongoing trials in the US, and forthcoming trials in Europe. The company has increased its headcount slightly to 14 people, but is in the process of adding customer sales and support staff in the US and has added a number of advisers, including former NetScaler and 3Leaf Systems CEO B.V. Jagadeesh, Juniper Networks sales executive Justin Barney and Frontline Consulting Services chief strategy officer Jnan Dash.

ScalArc’s iDB technology provides database clustering and load balancing, including transparent SQL caching, to improve database performance and reliability. It includes iDB Cache, a transparent database query-caching layer; SQL database server and client emulators designed to support existing applications without modification; Regular-Expression rules and a lexicon engine to automatically manage the distribution of queries across a cluster; and an SQL query firewall, which can be used to block SQL injection attacks and prevent specific query statements that would undermine performance. The iDB technology also offers real-time SQL analytics, including access to live database performance statistics and query logs.

The next version of iDB, due in the next three months, will allow users to transform queries on the fly, and will potentially add shard load balancing through development work ongoing with ScaleDB. Prior to that, ScalArc will also commence beta trials of a version of iDB for Microsoft’s SQL Server. The company has been working with Microsoft on support for SQL Server, and also plans to add support for Microsoft’s SQL Azure cloud database.


We have included ScalArc in our NewSQL categorization of emerging relational database-related products. NewSQL covers a loosely affiliated group of vendors focused on bringing the benefits of the relational model to distributed architectures, or to improve the performance of relational databases to the extent that horizontal scalability is no longer a necessity. Unlike some of the entirely new database players, such as VoltDB, NimbusDB and Clustrix, ScalArc claims an advantage in that it does not require migration of data away from existing MySQL deployments (although Clustrix does support the MySQL protocol for compatibility with existing MySQL applications).

We also see some overlap with vendors providing storage engines that improve the scalability of MySQL, especially Xeround and its cloud database offering for Amazon RDS and MySQL on EC2, Heroku and Rackspace. However, ScalArc’s partnership with ScaleDB demonstrates that the company has the potential to provide complementary load-balancing expertise to other database-clustering technologies. The emerging focus on database sharding is likely to increase the comparisons between ScalArc and ScaleBase with its Database Load Balancer software layer, which automatically manages database sharding. Besides these emerging contenders, ScalArc also sees Citrix’s NetScaler load-balancing software as indirectly competitive.

Reprinted with the permission of 451 group

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