Northscale, the company founded by leaders of open source Memcached project, yesterday announced that they have joined with Zynga and NHN (a Korea based game and search services company) to establish the open source Membase project (See our previous coverage of Northscale here). Membase is an elastic NoSQL database that is fully compatible with Memcached. 

This open source project, released under the Apache License Version 2.0, is optimized for highly interactive web applications, meaning creating, storing, retrieving, aggregating, manipulating and presenting data in real-time concurrently for huge number of users. This highly elastic key value store has tremendous advantages over relational databases in terms of cost, performance and scalability. The significance of Membase is that it offers these advantages along with low latencies and high sustained throughput.  
According to James Phillips, Cofounder and Senior Vice President of Products,
Membase was built in the spirit of memcached: provide a simple, fast and infinitely scalable place to store web application data, leveraging commodity hardware. Without compromising these properties, membase adds durability, consistency and availability guarantees with support for dynamically adding servers to, and removing servers from, a running cluster. Using membase, even the world’s busiest web applications are never kept waiting for data.
Some of the features of Membase includes
  • Persistance – Data can be stored to SSD or spinning media
  • Replication – providing high availability by copying data to multiple cluster members and supporting rapid fail-over
  • Dynamic cluster configuration – add and remove servers, and rebalance data on a live cluster without impacting running applications
The reason I think it is interesting is because it is the next logical step to memcached, as a project, and Northscale, as a company. It extends the simplicity and speed of memcached with durability and availability guarantees. In my previous post about Northscale, I explained how their technology fits in
Let us take a look at why Northscale’s technology is important in today’s world and how it is core to the success of platform services. In the era of web apps and SaaS, the amount of data produced and stored increases at an exponential rate. In the traditional world, the need for additional data resources were handled in the scale-up manner. RDBMS played a crucial role for handling all these data. For the kind of data we are dealing in today’s world, the traditional scale-up approach to scaling will not work. We need a scale-out approach to handling data. RDBMS fails big time in scaling out. As an alternative solution, NoSQL gained steam offering Scale-out solutions to the data management problems we face today. However, organizations that are deep rooted in the RDBMS world are skeptical about taking a plunge into the NoSQL approach because there is a discontinuity while jumping directly into the alternative approaches to data management. Ideally, these organizations would want to take step by step approach in the transition. This is where Northscale comes in. They offer solutions for organizations to take a gradual approach while moving from the erstwhile scale-up technologies to the newer scale-out technologies.
With Membase project, Northscale is positioning themselves to be a major player in the next phase of the evolution. As they help organizations move away from relational database with their memcached based technology, they are positioning themselves to be ready to offer these organizations a memcached compatible NoSQL data store. Great strategy for the future of Northscale.
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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at and Cloud Computing related topics at

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