InfoCyclone boosts Oracle database performance

Oracle Corp. customers who run complex queries on their databases but can't afford the related drag in performance may find relief in a new product due in October from startup InfoCyclone Inc.

The company's server appliance aims to improve database performance by storing frequently accessed data in its main memory, offloading work from the main server. The first appliances will be offered with 4G bytes and 16G bytes of memory, priced at US$50,000 and US$150,000, respectively.

The appliance watches SQL queries as they come into the database and stores frequently accessed data in memory, organizing it for faster retrieval. The next time the queries are run the appliance executes them from memory using a high-speed, read-only SQL engine. As information in the database changes, the data stored in the appliance is kept up to date using Oracle's Log Miner tool.

"We're adaptive in the sense that we're constantly monitoring traffic and rearranging data so that it's always optimally arranged for the queries," said Dr. Ran Giladi, InfoCyclone's chairman and cofounder.

Adventatia AG, a German services company that matches unemployed workers with available jobs, is one happy customer. It attached the appliance to its database of some 12.5 million records. As a result it can find matches faster and in the process managed to reduced its Oracle licensing fees, said Olaf Schmitz, Adventatia's chief executive.

Because the appliance offloads work from its database server, Adventatia has been able to reduce the number of processors in its Sun Microsystems Inc. system from four processors to two, in turn reducing its database license fees. And the response times for its queries are on average seven times faster, Schmitz said. "We got more speed with a cheaper machine."

Adventatia got its appliance about five months ago as part of InfoCyclone's pilot program and has decided it's worth paying to keep it. The money it saves on its Oracle software means that on balance it saves money. Its database is relatively simple, using only three columns for most of its queries, Schmitz said, so it was able to buy the less expensive 4G-byte system.

The company shopped around for alternatives before choosing InfoCyclone but didn't find one available in Germany, he said.

Industry analyst Richard Ptak, principle of Ptak & Associates Inc. in Amherst, New Hampshire, was also impressed by the machine.

"I'm not aware of anyone doing quite the same thing," he said, adding that the price tag seems reasonable.

One rival may be Appfluent Technology Inc., of Arlington, Virginia, which sells a replication server designed to generate reports more quickly.

InfoCyclone claims its product can boost data retrieval times by tenfold and that companies don't have to make changes to their database or applications. It typically sits in a datacenter between the database server and application server

It first discussed its product a year ago, when it was shooting for a launch date in March or April. It pushed the release back to October because it wanted more time to figure out which markets to go after and to tweak the product's performance, said Rob Secontine, its vice president of North American operations. It also wanted to time the release with Oracle's OracleWorld conference, which takes place next month San Francisco.

InfoCyclone is working on another version based on Intel Corp.'s 64-bit processor, allowing it to expand the memory cache to 64M bytes or more. It hopes to launch that product in the first quarter of next year. Further out it plans to offer versions for other databases including IBM Corp.'s DB2. For now it works with Oracle8, version 8.0.5 and up, and Oracle9i.

The 4G-byte system uses two Xeon processors, and the 16G-byte version four Xeons. Both are built around name-brand servers from the likes of Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co., running Linux and InfoCyclone's own software.

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