Continuent launches database cluster middleware

Continuent is expected on Monday to launch high-availability database clustering software.

Emic Networks has renamed itself Continuent and presented a new version of its high-availability database clustering software.

The company has made a name for itself as the developer of m/cluster, proprietary high-availability clustering software for applications built on the open-source MySQL database. Now it wants to make a new name for itself as the developer of a family of clustering software built on an open-source core.

It already uses that new name, Continuent, for the portal where it hosts the open-source software projects it sponsors. Among them is Sequoia, a high-availability database middleware layer and JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) driver that forms the heart of the new software family. It evolved out of ObjectWeb Consortium's C-JDBC project.

Continuent will release a new version of m/cluster (for use with MySQL), and p/cluster, for use with PostgreSQL, in the first quarter of next year. Later that quarter, or early in the second quarter, will come versions for Sybase and SQL Server, all built on the same open-source code, according to the company's chief executive officer, Eero Teerikorpi.

Because the software uses only standard interfaces such as JDBC, application developers can write to that interface, treating the cluster as a single database, while m/cluster takes care of the details underneath, he said.

The m/cluster software can cluster anything from two to 64 database nodes, the most the company has tested internally, Teerikorpi said. Businesses would typically use four to six nodes, though, he said.

"It's about high availability and fast fail-over," he said

For performance reasons, the old version of m/cluster made changes to the code of the MySQL database engine, an approach made possible because MySQL is open source, Teerikorpi said. But that approach left m/cluster vulnerable to changes in the MySQL platform -- such as the move to MySQL 5 -- and isn't possible with proprietary databases where the code cannot be changed.

The new version does everything from outside the database engine, interacting with it only through standard interfaces -- and it works faster, he said. The other products -- p/cluster for PostgreSQL, ms/cluster for SQL Server and so on -- will be proprietary wrappers around the same open source core, he said.

The company's 100 or so existing m/cluster customers will be offered a seamless upgrade path and the same or a higher level of service, Teerikorpi said. The old version will be supported for 18 months or so, but upgrading to the new version will bring them support for MySQL 5 and for features such as stored procedures, not supported in the old version.

New customers will pay US$4,995 or Euro 3,995 per database CPU for the software.

As well as a new name and a new software platform, the company has some other news to announce on Monday: US$5.75 million in additional venture capital financing in an investment round led by Trident Capital, Nordic Venture Partners and Ledstiernan. With the extra funding, the company plans to expand its sales and marketing team, opening a new office in the U.K.

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