Home & Office

Start-up promises to speed web data access

Two appliances from start-up Schooner use solid-state drives to give faster delivery of data for the web
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

Start-up Schooner Information Technology has launched two appliances that are intended to significantly speed up data access for websites.

The two data-access appliances, introduced on Monday, are both based on one piece of hardware, but are tailored to two different software products. One appliance is tailored to working with MySQL Enterprise and the other to working with Memcached.

Memcached, a distributed memory caching system, is used by websites such as YouTube, LiveJournal, Slashdot, Facebook, Twitter and Digg to cache their pages for fast access by users.

Typically, for applications accessed via the web, "throughput is limited by memory, multi-core scalability and network bandwidth", California-based Schooner said in a statement. By addressing all three areas in its new appliances, it is aiming to speed up data access and use of web applications.

The two datacentre appliances are intended to help web companies deal with a huge growth in data and the need for users to access it and handle it. Schooner uses a combination of fast RAM and solid-state memory to achieve fast access speeds, used in conjection with 10Gb Ethernet technology for communications.

The appliances use the newest versions of industry-standard components. They have 64GB DRAM, 512GB Intel X25-E flash memory, dual-core Intel Nehalem processors and 10Gb Ethernet. By using these components, which have been optimised for speed, Schooner said it believed it could speed up web access by eight times compared with most datacentre servers.

The use of solid-state drives in caching is becoming more popular with corporate customers, said Tony Lock, an analyst at Freeform Dynamics. "Caching was used a lot 10 or 20 years ago, and now it is becoming popular again," he said. "It is a way of instantly getting faster performance when retrieving data and when processing it, and so can be an all-round win."

A big issue facing companies is working out which data to process in the cache, Lock said. "The organisation has to work out what information is of the most business value, because solid-state memory is expensive," he said. "Then it will need to work out where the long-term value is, because a lot of information does not need to be in the cache for long, because it is only of very short-term value."

Schooner also said on Monday that it had entered a strategic collaboration with IBM. The collaboration will focus on helping IBM come up with methods to increase the performance of internet datacentres, Schooner said. No further details were released.

Lock said it was not unusual for IBM to put money into a small company such as Schooner. "IBM has a lot of money and invests in a lot of companies," he said.

According to Schooner, its appliances are in customer trials and will be available for volume shipment in the third quarter of 2009.

Editorial standards