Competitive Landscape: In-Memory Data Grids
Versatile, mature and in many platforms, applications and cloud services, in-memory data grids are growing in popularity, but the market is fragmented. IMDG vendors' strategists should push IMDGs as part of a wider in-memory computing initiative to boost mainstream adoption.
- Most IMDG players are now large or midsize application infrastructure companies taking an "IMDG inside" approach, but they are evolving toward big data and analytics. Revenue continues to grow, as more users require the scalability and performance that in-memory computing offers.
- Key drivers for the IMDG market include growing awareness, cloud adoption, mature functionality and bundling with other software products. Inhibitors include concerns over pure-play vendors, a lack of standards and limited support from system integrators.
- Market players include big vendors, middleware specialists and pure-play providers, but some of the most popular vendors are small firms, despite worries over their viability.
- Three factors will affect the future of competition in the IMDG market: a lack of standards, the evolution of in-memory computing and the influence of the cloud.
- Frame your IMDG value proposition and go-to-market strategy as part of a broader in-memory computing initiative that may also incorporate in-memory DBMS, analytics, event-processing platforms and other application infrastructure platforms.
- Simplify product deployment, configuration, administration and management to encourage mainstream organizations new to the technology to adopt it.
- Devise creative pricing and terms and conditions that are at least partially linked to the success of user organizations' business initiatives, leveraging IMDG technology to stimulate widespread adoption.
- Look for OEM/VAR opportunities in classic and innovative application infrastructure and other software segments, including packaged applications.
Table of Contents
- Competitive Situation and Trends
- Market Players
- The Future of Competition
- Competitive Profiles
- GigaSpaces Technologies
- ScaleOut Software
- Software AG
- Tibco Software
- References and Methodology
In-memory data grid (IMDG) technology (see Note 1) has been available for almost a decade, but the installed base for IMDG products is relatively small — about a thousand clients. Basic open-source products, such as memcached, however, are used widely, and over the past few years, IMDG adoption and vendors' revenue have been accelerating. A growing number of organizations are using IMDGs to support large-scale, business-critical production applications. Adoption rates of IMDGs are strong across many industry verticals, particularly telecommunications, financial services, social networks and cloud services.
Recent technology improvements have made it possible to use IMDGs for highly innovative, hybrid transactional/analytical applications. IMDGs can leverage the simple NoSQL data structure they manage and the super-low-latency access to data they provide. As such, they are increasingly being used to support big data scenarios where velocity aspects, and to a certain extent variability aspects (as opposed to volume), are relevant.
The IMDG market is still fragmented across a relatively large number of players (16 that Gartner tracks). But there has been some consolidation as large software vendors, such as Oracle, VMware and Software AG, have established a presence in the market by acquiring small specialists (Tangosol, GemStone and Terracotta, respectively).
Most IMDG players are large or midsize application infrastructure firms, which, as well as selling IMDGs as stand-alone products, frame their IMDG technology as components of broader software offerings that include packaged applications, business process management (BPM) suites, complex-event processing (CEP) platforms, enterprise service buses (ESBs), business intelligence suites, portal products, enterprise application servers and cloud services. Such an "IMDG inside" approach favors adoption by mainstream user organizations, which may still find a direct use of IMDG technology in their custom applications too technically challenging. By adopting IMDG-inside products, they can improve the scalability, performance and availability of applications developed on traditional platforms and gradually get accustomed to what for them is a new technology, implying a rather advanced set of architectural assumptions.
To appeal to advanced user organizations and expand the area of applicability of their IMDG offerings, these vendors, as well as the remaining pure-play providers, are rapidly evolving their IMDG technology to support innovative use cases, such as big data, real-time analytics and CEP, often framed in the context of broader in-memory computing strategies.
Several factors are driving adoption of IMDG technology, although they vary greatly across vertical sectors. Some key drivers are listed here (for a more exhaustive list, see "Emerging Technology Analysis: In-Memory Data Grids Are Enablers for High-Growth Software Markets"):
- Growing industry awareness
- Multicore and 64-bit hardware architectures and the availability of relatively inexpensive RAM, flash memory and solid-state drive technology
- The growing adoption of cloud computing
- Rapidly growing markets, such as those for cloud-enabled application platform (CEAPs), event-processing platforms and big data analysis
- The availability of numerous commercial and open-source IMDG products, and rapid growth in vendors' revenue and installed bases
- Mature and tested functionality
- Bundling of IMDGs into other software products
- Query languages provided, and to some extent supported, by the most advanced IMDG products
A growing number of users are adopting IMDG technology embedded into other application infrastructure products, but the explicit use of IMDGs remains limited mainly to leading-edge, technically savvy organizations. The factors limiting more widespread adoption of IMDGs include the following (for a more exhaustive list, see "Emerging Technology Analysis: In-Memory Data Grids Are Enablers for High-Growth Software Markets"):
- Concerns over the viability of pure-play vendors
- Vendors' limited ability to provide professional services
- Lack of commonly agreed standards
- Products' different maturity levels and varied functionality
- Limited support from system integrators and independent software vendors (ISVs)
- Complexity of deployment, configuration, monitoring and management
In 2012, a relatively large number of players competed for a share of the IMDG market, which was worth $350 million. Numerous commercial and open-source IMDG products are available (some have been in the market for several years), and vendors' revenue and installed bases are growing fast. Large players, such as IBM, Microsoft, VMware and Oracle, as well as middleware specialists, such as Red Hat (JBoss), Software AG and Tibco Software, now have IMDG technology in their portfolios, as do storage vendors, such as SanDisk. Pure-play vendors, such as Alachisoft, Hazelcast, GigaSpaces Technologies and ScaleOut Software, are also active in the market and growing their installed bases and revenue.
Most of these vendors pursue traditional business models based on closed-source, software licenses and maintenance, but a few (Couchbase, Hazelcast, GridGain, Red Hat and Software AG) take an open-source software approach. Vendors such as IBM provide the technology in the form of a hardware appliance, and IMDG platform as a service (PaaS) offerings are appearing in the market.
Large application infrastructure vendors have geared up marketing programs related to their IMDGs. They have also introduced support for these products in other application infrastructure packages, such as portal products, application servers, CEAPs, ESBs, event-processing platforms and BPM tools, as performance and scalability boosters. Several ISVs bundle IMDGs in packaged applications. A growing number of PaaS vendors incorporate IMDGs as enablers for their offerings.
Some of the most popular IMDG vendors are small companies, with low revenue and a relatively short track record. Many potential users are rightly concerned about what would happen if their IMDG provider went out of business. And because of the limited professional services skills available from large players and external service providers, buyers have concerns about the industry's ability to support them in multiple geographies or simply to deliver consistently beyond a certain scale.
Table 1 lists the key players in the IMDG market and their chief products.
Source: Gartner (July 2013)
Three factors will have the biggest influence on how the IMDG competitive landscape evolves:
- Lack of IMDG standards
- Development of in-memory computing
- Influence of the cloud
This is the most pressing problem for the evolution of the competitive landscape. Despite some early attempts to create standards (such as JavaSpaces and JCache), user organizations can view the dearth of standards as leading to vendor lock-in. IMDG standardization initiatives are in the pipeline in the Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) and Spring communities, but concrete deliverables are at least two years away and most likely won't be successful. Major vendors, such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Software AG, Tibco and VMware, have invested strategically in IMDG technology (through internal developments or acquisitions) to support short-term business opportunities and to enable long-term strategies in emerging technologies, such as CEAP, event processing, big data analysis and cloud computing.
The speed at which IMDGs are adopted will be determined by how much the industry accepts radical architectural innovation driven potentially by in-memory computing at large. The emergence of in-memory computing is likely to drive another round of mergers and acquisitions, as large software vendors try to rapidly fill gaps in their in-memory computing technology portfolios and small vendors try to reach critical mass quickly.
IMDGs belong to the broader family of in-memory computing application infrastructure technologies, a fact which itself has implications for the competitive landscape. Currently, this set of technologies is fragmented across multiple separated segments (IMDG, in-memory DBMS, in-memory analytics, CEP platforms, low-latency messaging and in-memory application servers), but there is significant overlap between some segments. For example, there are many similarities between IMDGs and in-memory DBMS, and between IMDGs and CEP platforms, and between in-memory DBMS and CEP platforms. However, technical convergence of some of these technology streams is already occurring: VMware has developed an in-memory relational database management system (RDBMS) on top of its IMDG, and IBM, Oracle, Software AG and Tibco have tightly coupled their respective IMDGs with their CEP platforms. This trend is likely to continue as vendors' and users' understanding of in-memory computing opportunities increases.
IMDGs' future is also closely, although not exclusively, related to the evolution of CEAPs, application platform as a service (aPaaS) offerings and cloud transaction processing/extreme transaction processing (TP/XTP) platforms. These platforms have a bright future as key enablers in scenarios such as aPaaS, software as a service (SaaS) and other cloud services (see "Emerging Technology Analysis: Extreme Transaction-Processing Platforms, Application Infrastructure"). In fact, large vendors are already making investments and commitments toward cloud TP/XTP, and there is also space for midtier specialists as competition between middleware market leaders IBM, Microsoft and Oracle increases. Players such as GigaSpaces, Software AG, Tibco and VMware frame their IMDG technology in broader cloud TP/XTP strategies, and often their offerings are used in cloud computing, aPaaS and SaaS initiatives.
In the next five years, we expect some large vendors to aggressively pursue CEAP and the cloud TP/XTP platform opportunity, possibly by acquiring niche vendors, while other large players decide to service the segment by continuing to offer only enabling technologies, such as IMDGs. At the same time, some specialized small vendors will aggregate more pieces in their platforms around an IMDG offering so that these products become fairly articulated CEAP or cloud TP/XTP platforms. To do so, they will look at strategic alliances or combining with other specialized players. In this scenario, no dominant IMDG player emerges, and polarization occurs between a few large vendors committed to IMDGs and a few successful specialized participants.
This section highlights key characteristics of the most prominent IMDG vendors.
Tel Aviv, Israel (www.gigaspaces.com)
A pioneer in the IMDG space, GigaSpaces has been developing and enhancing its technology since its incorporation more than a decade ago. Its eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) IMDG evolved into an in-memory-enabled CEAP, and with its Cloudify offering, the company has gained a foothold in the cloud management market. XAP is used by clients in industries such as financial services, e-commerce, telecom, online entertainment and travel.
XAP comes in a variety of forms, including a free Lite edition, a Caching edition and a Premium edition that extends the IMDG capability with full CEAP functionality. A variety of licensing models are used, including perpetual licenses, annual subscriptions and pay per use.
GigaSpaces' rich IMDG functionality includes replication, partitioning, transaction management and locking, query language, persistency management, eventing, distributed processing and MapReduce, security and monitoring, and management. XAP can deploy on-premises and on public infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platforms. The Multi-Site Data Replication add-on to XAP allows for hybrid cloud/on-premises deployments for disaster recovery and cloud bursting.
Big data analytics is increasingly becoming a focus for GigaSpaces. Its latest releases of XAP have included a wealth of big-data-related functionalities, including data compression, distributed processing of ordered events and integration with big-data-oriented DBMSs. These capabilities allow users to combine transactional and analytical/big data functions in the same applications, on the same in-memory data store. What further makes GigaSpaces' strategy stand out is its inclusion, in XAP Premium, of in-memory application server/CEAP capabilities.
Despite the company's limited resources in market outreach compared with the "megaplayers," GigaSpaces' experience in this field makes its offerings among the most advanced and proven available, and it has gathered a prestigious list of clients as a result (including Bank of America, Reuters, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Sears, American Airlines, TeliaSonera). It now has a presence in several key verticals, including financial services, e-commerce, travel and cloud services. Its mature functionality supports a wide range of use cases, making it attractive to many different types of company.
Its well-established support for popular standards, such as Java EE and Spring, make its in-memory application platform (XAP Premium edition) attractive to users, despite its unconventional architecture. By taking on big data and the cloud, GigaSpaces has moved into two important growth areas in the industry.
On the downside, the company is largely dependent on its partner network to provide professional services and support, which could restrict its agility in the fast-moving IMDG space. Use of IMDG is not yet common in big data scenarios, so the company's big data initiative may struggle to make significant headway, particularly as it may have to compete against more established platforms.
Armonk, New York (www.ibm.com)
IBM entered the IMDG market in 2008, with the ObjectGrid technology, which shipped with WebSphere Extended Deployment, the then high-end version of the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) product line, and subsequently shipped as a stand-alone offering, WebSphere eXtreme Scale (WXS).
WXS has a significant installed base, primarily among WAS customers. However, it is less well-known in the industry than some of its competitors, owing to IBM's low-key marketing for the product so far.
In addition to the full-featured WXS, IBM's IMDG offering also includes the WebSphere DataPower XC10, a reduced set of WXS functionality packaged into a hardware appliance aimed at use cases involving distributed caching for WAS, WebSphere Commerce, WebSphere Portal and other non-IBM Java environments. Licensing for both products follows a traditional model.
WXS's IMDG capabilities include partitioning, replication, local cache, eventing, MapReduce support, distributed processing, transaction management and WAN replication. Nevertheless, it is missing some functions (such as data grid overflow management) found in more advanced products. Even so, WXS is used by about 250 organizations, including Sprint, Royal Caribbean, Bon-Ton, Air New Zealand and Verizon Wireless.
WXS is used extensively as an enabling technology for a wealth of other IBM offerings. The most recent version of WXS, 8.6 (announced in October 2012), introduced additional functionality, including native support for .NET applications, continuous query of data, and improved integration with application servers other than WAS.
IBM's huge installed base provides considerable opportunity to cross-sell products in the WXS family, thanks largely to the product integration with a host of IBM's other applications, including IBM Workload Deployer, IBM BPM, Tivoli Access Manager, WAS and other products in the WebSphere family. WXS is also a bundled component of IBM's recently announced PureApplication System, a family of integrated hardware and software products (see "The Purification of IBM's Systems Portfolio: A Decision Framework Applied to PureApplication System") and a key enabler for IBM SmartCloud Application Services, IBM's PaaS offering.
WXS's scalability also means that it can support many more partitions than used by the most-demanding IMDG applications. Its availability as a hardware appliance with plug-and-play integration capabilities makes it suitable for organizations with little or no knowledge of IMDGs. A key differentiator for WXS is that it can run on a wide range of OSs, including HP-UX, various Linux distributions, Microsoft Windows and IBM z/OS.
Like other IMDG offerings, however, WXS is hampered by relatively low market awareness and support, which could hinder its widespread adoption and make it harder to find system integrators with the right skills. WXS's capabilities, although plentiful, are not as advanced as some of its competitors', and it provides only native Java and C# APIs, which could make it less attractive to IT organizations with heterogeneous application portfolios that need high-performance, native access to IMDG data.
Redmond, Washington (www.microsoft.com)
In 2008, Microsoft previewed its first foray into IMDG technology, based on what used to be known as the Velocity project. Microsoft's limited marketing activity around its IMDG offerings means that its technology is not as well-known as solutions provided by its main competitors.
However, Microsoft is one of the few vendors providing an IMDG platform in the form of a cloud service as part of its Windows Azure public cloud offerings. This potentially opens up significant cross-selling opportunities to Microsoft's Windows Azure clients and partners, thus establishing a vehicle for widespread adoption of its IMDG technology.
The Velocity-derived technology is now available in two types: Windows Server AppFabric Caching, a free add-on to Windows Server that provides the IMDG capabilities implemented by Velocity; and Windows Azure Caching, which is priced according to the size of the in-memory data store.
AppFabric Caching supports partitioning, synchronous and asynchronous replication, local cache, high availability and failover management, cache event notification, read through and write behind, data compression, security, and integration with Windows PowerShell for administration and management. However, not all AppFabric Caching capabilities (on-premises software) are supported in Azure Caching. In general, new features are released on AppFabric Caching before being released in Azure Caching after about three to six months. Because of the diverse nature of the underlying environment (Windows Server and Windows Azure), some aspects of the products differ (such as management and security). Azure Caching can also be integrated with heterogeneous clients.
Microsoft's IMDG technology is available to developers through a set of specific, language-neutral .NET APIs. It can also be leveraged transparently in Active Server Pages (ASP) .NET to manage HTTP session data and output cache.
For most Microsoft users, AppFabric Caching is almost the default IMDG option, because of its native integration with the Microsoft environment and free availability to Windows Server licensees. Equally, Azure Caching is a natural IMDG service for organizations considering Windows Azure for new applications.
So far, Microsoft is alone in providing largely compatible on-premises and PaaS versions of its IMDG technology. So for IT organizations targeting hybrid on-premises/cloud deployments, it will be particularly attractive. However, IT organizations with a heterogeneous technology environment will be less enamored with Microsoft's offering, because of the technology's close integration with Windows Server and Windows Azure.
Also, Microsoft's IMDG technology lacks key features, such as query language, distributed processing support, support for non-memcached-based heterogeneous clients, WAN replication and transaction management, making it less attractive than its competitors' offerings for advanced users, and only suitable for organizations with basic distributed caching requirements.
Redwood Shores, California (www.oracle.com)
Oracle's entry into the IMDG market followed its acquisition of IMDG pioneer Tangosol in 2007. Tangosol's Coherence product now forms the centerpiece of Oracle's in-memory computing offering, and the company has been working to fully integrate Oracle Coherence with the rest of its portfolio. Oracle Coherence is one of the most well-known IMDGs in the market and is likely to be the most widely deployed IMDG.
Since acquiring Tangosol, Oracle has been able to maintain and extend Coherence's leadership of the market, expanding its installed base in numerous vertical industries. Sample users include Avis Budget, Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan and Telecom Italia.
Oracle Coherence includes three main editions: Standard (which provides the core IMDG capabilities), Enterprise (which offers extended functionality), and Grid (which provides additional support for WAN replication and .NET and C++ client applications).
Oracle Coherence enjoys a large installed base and is also one of the most mature and functionally complete IMDG products. It supports most IMDG capabilities and is available stand-alone and bundled with Oracle WebLogic Suite, the high-end version of Oracle's Java EE application server (Oracle WebLogic Server). Oracle Coherence is integrated with a number of Oracle's other products, including Oracle GlassFish Server, Oracle WebLogic Portal, Oracle WebCenter, Oracle BPM Suite, Oracle Service Bus, Oracle Event Processing and several of Oracle's packaged applications.
The product is also a key component of the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud family of integrated hardware and software systems targeting high-performance/high-scale Java applications and server consolidation scenarios. In October 2011, the company announced Oracle Cloud (a set of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings), and Oracle Coherence is one of the key technology building blocks for this offering.
As a market leader in terms of revenue, Oracle Coherence is likely to remain in a strong position, thanks to its crucial role in several of the company's strategic initiatives and ongoing investments in this technology in the form of R&D and marketing. For IT organizations committed to Oracle's packaged applications, Oracle Coherence is a natural choice for an IMDG, given its integration with several of Oracle's application infrastructure and packaged application offerings.
Oracle Coherence's sophisticated set of features means that it can address a wide range of application requirements and deployment scenarios. And Oracle is in the strong position of having an ecosystem of ISVs to provide additional functionality, something many of its competitors still lack.
Nevertheless, despite Oracle Coherence's popularity, the number of expert Oracle Coherence engineers is relatively limited, so finding relevant skills for the product may be difficult in some regions. Also, Oracle Coherence is viewed by some as a relatively advanced, expensive, high-end product, which could lead IT organizations to opt for less sophisticated offerings, simply because they're easier to adopt. Also, some organizations in the early stages of in-memory computing adoption may have a hard time figuring out when to use Oracle Coherence and Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database, thus slowing down the sales process.
Palo Alto, California (www.gopivotal.com)
Pivotal's IMDG technology — GemFire — is delivered today as a stand-alone offering and as a component of the vFabric suite of application infrastructure technologies. GemFire is planned to be an essential part of the announced Pivotal One enterprise PaaS offering, as well. Developed by GemStone several years ago, GemFire was an early entrant to the IMDG category and subsequently acquired by VMware in 2010.
Pivotal hopes to deliver a modern software platform that supports what it terms the "consumer-grade enterprise." The company brings together assets acquired and built by VMware (GemStone, RabbitMQ, Spring and Cloud Foundry), along with EMC's Greenplum database offerings including its own distribution of Hadoop.
Making up Pivotal's GemFire IMDG offering are four GemFire packages: Application Cache Node (which provides local cache; HTTP session replication for Tomcat, tc Server and other application servers; and Hibernate L2 object caching); Data Management Node (which implements the full set of IMDG capabilities and acts as the server for Application Cache Nodes); and Global WAN Upgrade (an add-on to Data Management Node that supports WAN replication across geographically dispersed IMDGs). Additionally, Pivotal offers an unlimited client option. All products are licensed by physical CPU (up to six cores per CPU). GemFire is not available as open-source software, which sets it apart from other components of the vFabric family.
GemFire is, however, deeply integrated with SpringSource's open-source technologies through Spring Data, a variety of APIs providing a consistent data access programming model across various data stores, including GemFire. Pivotal's IMDG also uses a shared-nothing persistence architecture that enables data held by individual GemFire nodes to be stored locally (on solid-state drives or hard-disk drives). This allows the data grid to be rebuilt after planned or unplanned downtime in tandem across IMDG nodes, reducing the warm-up time for the data grid. The product also supports metadata management capabilities.
Pivotal also offers SQLFire, a row store, online transaction processing (OLTP)-focused SQL-based in-memory DBMS compatible with ANSI SQL-92. This uses GemFire's core technology for scale-out, replication, high availability and persistence. Despite being very young with few deployments, the hybrid product offered by SQLFire, which combines DBMS and IMDG capabilities, shows that Pivotal might be heading for in-memory computing technology convergence.
Pivotal's Cloud Foundry PaaS strategy already incorporates many vFabric technologies, and GemFire is likely to play an increasing role in that approach. Combined with the former Greenplum data analytics offerings, Pivotal can blend in-memory transaction-oriented approaches with deep analytics software.
Pivotal has an opportunity to cross-sell vFabric GemFire to its large installed base of virtualization clients. Since the GemStone acquisition, the GemFire business has enjoyed rapid growth, and it now contributes a sizable proportion of vFabric's revenue. GemFire's 200-plus clients are in sectors such as financial services, government, travel and online entertainment. The opportunity at Pivotal is to continue along the traditional IMDG path, while also pairing with the former Greenplum massively parallel processing database and Pivotal HD.For the many Spring developers, Pivotal's IMDG is an obvious choice, thanks to GemFire's integration with SpringSource's open-source technology. And SQLFire's visionary positioning anticipates the trend toward a convergence of in-memory computing technologies in the industry, and it may be more appealing than GemFire to mainstream companies, which are already familiar with SQL.
Nevertheless, some of vFabric GemFire's capabilities in areas such as out-of-the-box RDBMS support for persistence (which is supported via integration with Hibernate), read-through/write-through/write-behind capabilities and distributed transaction management across multiple clusters, are less advanced than those offered by competitors. Third-party support for the range is limited, which may restrict adoption, especially among mainstream organizations that lack the necessary skills to deal with a complex platform such as GemFire. And, like other IMDGs, the fact that vFabric GemFire is certified to run on Microsoft Windows Server, Oracle Solaris (on SPARC chips), Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux may make it less attractive to organizations committed to other OS environments.
In addition, despite its visionary promise, because vFabric SQLFire was only recently put on general release, the product doesn't have a significant number of production deployments and public references, making it so far unproven, despite being based on the proven GemFire technology.
Bellevue, Washington (www.scaleoutsoftware.com)
Founded in 2003, ScaleOut Software offers the ScaleOut StateServer product line, which is dedicated to the IMDG market.
The ScaleOut StateServer product line was first released in 2005 and includes six main offerings. These range from core IMDG technology (ScaleOut StateServer) to various extensions to cover disaster recovery across dispersed locations (ScaleOut GeoServer), in-memory MapReduce-like capabilities for analytics (ScaleOut Analytics Server), IMDG support for Hadoop (ScaleOut hServer), and a management pack. ScaleOut StateServer is one of the most widely adopted IMDGs, although it tends to have smaller deployments than some of the other products in the market.
The initial focus of ScaleOut StateServer was to provide IMDG capabilities to the Microsoft .NET market, but it now has gained a foothold in the Java market, particularly in the financial services sector. ScaleOut's other target verticals include e-commerce, telecom, entertainment and travel.
ScaleOut StateServer offers advanced IMDG technology but with a simpler setup process than many of its rivals. Its latest version includes scalability improvements, full support for public cloud deployments, integration with Hadoop and improved management tools. It supports multiple programming languages (C#, Java and C/C++) and is one of the few IMDGs available that is implemented in C/C++, making it immune to performance issues related to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) garbage collection process.
ScaleOut's close association and track record with Microsoft .NET differentiates it from many of its competitors and makes it particularly attractive to Microsoft-focused IT organizations looking for a suitable IMDG. Like most IMDGs, ScaleOut StateServer is used mainly to support transactional applications, but the company plans to use the ScaleOut Analytics Server and ScaleOut hServer offerings to open up new opportunities in big data that many of its competitors have yet to fully exploit.
ScaleOut's emphasis on hybrid on-premises/public cloud deployments is highly innovative and could generate interest among leading-edge user organizations and IT providers that want to share data across both environments. Nevertheless, awareness of ScaleOut's product in the market is limited, despite its relatively large customer base. In addition, its concentrated geographic positioning (mostly in North America) may hamper its adoption by globally dispersed organizations. Also, and again like many other IMDG providers, ScaleOut has a lack of third-party support, and its focus on Microsoft Windows, Red Hat and Fedora Linux, and Oracle's OpenSolaris could limit its appeal for organizations with alternative OS environments.
Darmstadt, Germany (www.softwareag.com)
In May 2011, Software AG acquired IMDG pioneer Terracotta, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary targeting the in-memory computing market. Terracotta IMDG technology is available stand-alone and also integrated into multiple other Software AG products in the webMethods product line. Terracotta's IMDG product is Terracotta BigMemory, which helps organizations avoid the unpredictable performance in Java applications caused by the JVM garbage collection process.
Software AG's Terracotta IMDG offering is Java-based and includes BigMemory Max, the full-featured offering; and BigMemory Go, which supports stand-alone systems.
BigMemory Max comes in three editions (DX, EX and FX), which have different functionality and are offered via traditional perpetual software licenses or through a subscription model. The FX edition includes the full set of IMDG features, including partitioning, replication, persistence, warm up, distributed query, write behind, transaction management, distributed processing support (through integration with Quartz Where) and eventing. The offering supports several APIs and programming languages and is also available in a free version supporting up to 8 gigabytes of in-memory data.
Enterprise Ehcache and BigMemory will form the basis of a new Software AG strategic in-memory data management platform, Terracotta In-Genius, announced in early March 2013, which will also include event-processing capabilities, big data integration and support for mobile devices. The Terracotta technology is also integrated into the webMethods line of application infrastructure products, as well as with the company's Adabas DBMS. There are also plans to use Terracotta software as a key part of new Software AG products in areas such as cloud, social collaboration, CEAPs and PaaS.
Terracotta's IMDG technology is growing rapidly. The company now has a base of more than 400 clients for BigMemory and preceding versions of the product — many of which use the technology to support large and business-critical applications. Its compatibility with Ehcache open-source technology (which Software AG estimates has 1.5 million deployments) allows the company to boost adoption of BigMemory.
By integrating Terracotta into its mainstream product line, Software AG can boost Terracotta's product revenue and installed base by proposing its technology as performance and scalability add-ons to the large installed base for Software AG Integration Server and the Software AG BPM suite. It can also differentiate its IMDG by integrating Terracotta technology with its CEP (Software AG Business Events) and high-performance messaging middleware (Software AG Nirvana Messaging), as well as by extending its functionality to other areas of the in-memory computing market.
As big data analytics becomes an increasingly rich area to exploit, Software AG could become a primary competitor in the new real-time big data analytics market, combining transactional and analytical capabilities, through its new Terracotta In-Genius platform. Still, it is less advanced than some competitors in specific areas, such as development tool integration and distributed processing. And it may be unattractive to organizations committed to OSs other than the ones that Terracotta is certified to run on (Microsoft Windows Server, Oracle Solaris [on Intel and SPARC chips], Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux).
Palo Alto, California (www.tibco.com)
Building on its reputation for innovation in application infrastructure technology, Tibco entered the IMDG market in 2010, having developed its product (Tibco ActiveSpaces) for several years.
Tibco has a reputation as an innovative company (it was one of the first application infrastructure vendors to recognize the importance of the cloud by releasing a PaaS offering [Tibco Silver]). ActiveSpaces is an element of another technology innovation strategy that could disrupt the in-memory computing space, through a combination of internal developments and acquisitions.
Tibco ActiveSpaces comes in three main variants: Tibco ActiveSpaces Enterprise Edition (which offers the full set of IMDG capabilities); the add-on Tibco ActiveSpaces Client Edition (which enables remote C/C++, Java and .NET applications to access the ActiveSpaces IMDG); and Tibco ActiveSpaces Community Edition (a free [although not open-source] version aimed at developers and pilot/test projects). ActiveSpaces Enterprise Edition is available via a traditional, per-CPU software licensing model. The Client Edition must be licensed for each client that accesses the IMDG remotely.
On top of ActiveSpaces, Tibco has rehosted its Tibco BusinessEvents event-processing platform (which was previously based on a third-party IMDG). It also offers integration with a Java-based event-driven application server (Tibco ActiveSpaces Transactions, which emerged following the acquisition of Kabira Technologies).
ActiveSpaces is also embedded into or offered as an optional plug-in for several other Tibco products, including Tibco BusinessEvents, Tibco BusinessEvents Extreme (an in-memory application server), Tibco Spotfire, Tibco ActiveMatrix BusinessWorks (an orchestration/ESB platforms) and Tibco Master Data Management. It also plans to leverage ActiveSpaces in other products, including the Tibco Hawk monitoring tool and other components of its ActiveMatrix set of technologies that enable service-oriented architecture. Chances are that the technology will also play a prominent role in Tibco's public cloud strategy.
Unlike most of its competitors' products, the ActiveSpaces product line is developed in C/C++, with a proprietary OS-independent memory management technology. This enables ActiveSpaces to avoid the unpredictable performance from JVM garbage collection that bedevils some competitors. ActiveSpaces also features a dynamic, transparent and pause-free mechanism to reallocate data across distributed partitions of the data grid, to avoid bottlenecks.
Tibco is still developing its ActiveSpaces strategy, but its activity in this area shows where it is taking its application infrastructure offerings in terms of "IMDG inside" capabilities. It is quite probable that the ActiveSpaces architecture will also appear, at least partially, as part of a cloud offering.
ActiveSpaces has most of the features expected of an advanced IMDG platform, including support for multiple client technologies and APIs (C/C++, Java and .NET, Java Database Connectivity, memcached, and Hibernate), replication, partitioning, distributed processing, transaction management, eventing, query language and persistence.
Compared with most competitors, which tend to offer a traditional shared-everything approach to persistence, ActiveSpaces' shared-nothing technology makes work easier for developers (who can assume a virtually infinite space) and system administrators (who don't need to manage complex storage/DBMS configurations).
By integrating ActiveSpaces into its main product lines, Tibco has an opportunity to expand ActiveSpaces' revenue and client list by proposing the technology to the large installed base for its ActiveMatrix and BusinessEvents products. ActiveSpaces' high performance, high scalability and advanced functionality should also boost its appeal. However, as a relatively new product, ActiveSpaces appeared almost a decade after some of the most popular IMDGs. A late entry into a now booming market has its upside, but ActiveSpaces is less mature than its major competitors, and it lacks market awareness and visibility (although this is a problem for many IMDGs). A still relatively small customer base means limited deployments, and the product lacks some features provided by competitors, including write behind, native support for RESTful interfaces and out-of-the-box WAN replication. However, some of these features are likely to be released over the next six to 12 months.
Information on IMDGs within this document was gathered through several sources. Providers' interviews and presentations on their IMDG offerings were two sources of information. A third was the website information that providers have on their products.
IMDGs are application platform software that provides an in-memory, distributed data store (the data grid), in which multiple, distributed applications can place, retrieve and exchange large volumes of data objects. Some IMDG products have been in the market for a decade. IMDGs were initially used to enable high-performance, high-scalability transactional applications (e.g., financial trading or e-commerce), but they are increasingly being used in new, hybrid transactional/analytical applications. For more information about IMDGs, see "What IT Leaders Need to Know About In-Memory Data Grids" and "Emerging Technology Analysis: In-Memory Data Grids Are Enablers for High-Growth Software Markets."