I find that comments coming from actual users of technology are a useful addition to the discussion of a supplier's products and services. This time, I communicated with Brian Lawler, Solutions Architect for Cisco Media Solutions Group. He spent a few moments answering questions about the selection and use of products coming from Terracotta. Thanks Brian!
Please introduce yourself and your organization
My name is Brian Lawler, and I am a Solutions Architect with the Cisco Media Solutions Group. Our flagship product is Cisco Eos, which is a social entertainment software platform that enables media and entertainment companies to develop community-driven Web sites that provide more personal experiences around branded content.
What are you doing that needed this technology
Cisco Eos is Java-based software that is deployed on a cluster of back end servers. In order to provide high availability, scalability, and fault tolerance, we needed a way for each different JVM to share the workload. Generally, this means keeping your application as stateless as you can, but there are situations (such as session management) where statelessness is not an option and some sort of information-sharing needs to happen across the cluster.
Terracotta provides that information-sharing ability without requiring developers to learn any new API's. Session clustering for us was just a matter of getting the Terracotta software, configuring, and starting it up. It has worked quite well for us in production and we are now ramping up our usage of the Terracotta product into other areas of our application.
What products did you consider before making a selection?
The main competitor for Terracotta being deployed initially was Tomcat
Why did you select this product?
The requirement we were specifically trying to address was session clustering, which became a requirement for us due to some other third party package's dependence on an HTTP session to work correctly. Tomcat offers a solution out of the box, but in the end we decided to go for Terracotta due to the fact that it is applicable across a broader range of clustering needs, and it so elegantly integrates with your existing code and development methodologies.
What tangible benefit have you gotten through the use of this product?
So far, the greatest benefit we have gotten is that Terracotta has done exactly what it says it will do. It has done so very reliably and our production Terracotta server machines are serving the load without breaking a sweat. As an architect, I feel quite comfortable with handling the growing load that Cisco Eos has experienced over the past year and I look forward to taking advantage of Terracotta in other areas of our application.
What advice would you offer others?
Download the OS version of the code and try it out! In production environments, start with a relatively low volume of clustered data (we don't cluster ALL sessions, just those of administrative customers) and get comfortable with the product, then ramp your way up.