Analysis of ScaleBase. Related subjects include:
I plan to write about several NewSQL vendors soon, but first here’s an overview post. Like “NoSQL”, the term “NewSQL” has an identifiable, recent coiner — Matt Aslett in 2011 — yet a somewhat fluid meaning. Wikipedia suggests that NewSQL comprises three things:
- OLTP- (OnLine Transaction Processing)/short-request-oriented SQL DBMS that are newer than MySQL.
- Innovative MySQL engines.
- Transparent sharding systems that can be used with, for example, MySQL.
I think that’s a pretty good working definition, and will likely remain one unless or until:
- SQL-oriented and NoSQL-oriented systems blur indistinguishably.
- MySQL (or PostgreSQL) laps the field with innovative features.
To date, NewSQL adoption has been limited.
- NewSQL vendors I’ve written about in the past include Akiban, Tokutek, CodeFutures (dbShards), Clustrix, Schooner (Membrain), VoltDB, ScaleBase, and ScaleDB, with GenieDB and NuoDB coming soon.
- But I’m dubious whether, even taken together, all those vendors have as many customers or production references as any of 10gen, Couchbase, DataStax, or Cloudant.*
That said, the problem may lie more on the supply side than in demand. Developing a competitive SQL DBMS turns out to be harder than developing something in the NoSQL state of the art.
As a follow-up to the latest Stonebraker kerfuffle, Derrick Harris asked me a bunch of smart followup questions. My responses and afterthoughts include:
- Facebook et al. are in effect Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors, not enterprise technology users. In particular:
- They have the technical chops to rewrite their code as needed.
- Unlike packaged software vendors, they’re not answerable to anybody for keeping legacy code alive after a rewrite. That makes migration a lot easier.
- If they want to write different parts of their system on different technical underpinnings, nobody can stop them. For example …
- … Facebook innovated Cassandra, and is now heavily committed to HBase.
- It makes little sense to talk of Facebook’s use of “MySQL.” Better to talk of Facebook’s use of “MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding.” That said:
- It’s hard to see why somebody today would use MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding for a new project. At least one of Couchbase or transparently-sharded MySQL is very likely a superior alternative. Other alternatives might be better yet.
- As noted above in the example of Facebook, the many major web businesses that are using MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding for existing projects can be presumed able to migrate away from that stack as the need arises.
Continuing with that discussion of DBMS alternatives:
- If you just want to write to the memcached API anyway, why not go with Couchbase?
- If you want to go relational, why not go with MySQL? There are many alternatives for scaling or accelerating MySQL — dbShards, Schooner, Akiban, Tokutek, ScaleBase, ScaleDB, Clustrix, and Xeround come to mind quickly, so there’s a great chance that one or more will fit your use case. (And if you don’t get the choice of MySQL flavor right the first time, porting to another one shouldn’t be all THAT awful.)
- If you really, really want to go in-memory, and don’t mind writing Java stored procedures, and don’t need to do the kinds of joins it isn’t good at, but do need to do the kinds of joins it is, VoltDB could indeed be a good alternative.
And while we’re at it — going schema-free often makes a whole lot of sense. I need to write much more about the point, but for now let’s just say that I look favorably on the Big Four schema-free/NoSQL options of MongoDB, Couchbase, HBase, and Cassandra.
A press person recently asked about:
… start-ups that are building technologies to enable MySQL and other SQL databases to get over some of the problems they have in scaling past a certain size. … I’d like to get a sense as to whether or not the problems are as severe and wide spread as these companies are telling me? If so, why wouldn’t a customer just move to a new database?
While that sounds as if he was asking about scale-out relational DBMS in general, MySQL or otherwise, short-request or analytic, it turned out that he was asking just about short-request scale-out MySQL. My thoughts and comments on that narrower subject include(d) but are not limited to: Read more
|Categories: Akiban, dbShards and CodeFutures, Investment research and trading, Kaminario, MySQL, NewSQL, Oracle, ScaleBase, ScaleDB, Schooner Information Technology, Solid-state memory, Tokutek and TokuDB, Web analytics||5 Comments|
Liran Zelkha of ScaleBase raised his hand on Twitter. It turns out ScaleBase has a story rather similar to that of CodeFutures/dbShards. That is:
- Like dbShards, ScaleBase is a proxy that looks to the application like a scale-out DBMS, but routes work to multiple servers running MySQL against different shards of the database. Other DBMS beyond MySQL are planned, but PostgreSQL — which dbShards supports — did not get mentioned.
- Sharding is done at configuration time, and is transparent to the application. You want to shard the big tables and replicate the small ones, because if you join two sharded tables, performance can be slow. ScaleBase may have more of a configuration-advisor wizard than dbShards does.
- Each shard is replicated to a mirror, in a high-availability way.
- You can use ScaleBase across multiple data centers, but there’s little or no magic to overcome the performance issues that would arise in many use cases.
- Much like dbShards, ScaleBase supports three kinds of sharding — hash, list, and range.
- ScaleBase currently has no support whatsoever for stored procedures, which is slightly less than dbShards has.
- Liran stresses that ScaleBase looks even to management tools — e.g. TOAD — like a single DBMS.
- ScaleBase runs on EC2 and private cloud.
Our talk didn’t get deeply technical, and I don’t know exactly how ScaleBase’s replication works. But a website reference to a small transaction log in a distributed cache does sound, while not identical to the dbShards approach, at least directionally similar.
ScaleBase is a year or so old, with about 6 people, based in the Boston area despite strong Israeli roots. ScaleBase has raised a round of venture capital; I didn’t ask for details.
Liran says that ScaleBase is in closed beta, with some production users, at least one of whom has over 100 database servers.