It's long been understood that creating large random access memory caches on a server cluster will speed application operation. GigaSpaces Technologies, one of the key implementers of the technology, is moving cache management into the multi-tenant cloud.
The result is a Cloud-Enabled Application Platform (CEAP) that the enterprise can use to launch highly scalable applications in its private cloud. GigaSpaces said its cloud-enabled platform can also be used by independent software vendors as a basis for offering their wares online as multi-tenant systems.
In short, some of the hidden arts that have made Salesforce.com so successful as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor are beginning to filter out as generally available technologies for the enterprise -- or any application builder -- to use to create a multi-tenant system.
Multi-tenancy, however, is not for the faint of heart. A scalable application has an expandable data layer, a means of keeping usable application objects in memory where they can be called quickly and frequently into action, and a messaging system that keeps up with everything else. Most platform-as-a-service approaches have the PaaS supplier scaling each of those things separately, while trying to glue them together for joint operations.
"You still have those different moving parts acting separately. We figured out a way to combine them in a common runtime (so they can scale together)," said Nati Shalom, CTO of GigaSpaces.
Perhaps another way of saying that is GigaSpaces started as a firm that could manage a server's local cache; it expanded to manage the combined cache of a cluster of servers, then figured out how to make that cache expandable by managing the cache as servers were added to the cluster. In its latest iteration, the GigaSpaces CEAP makes application business logic elastic by managing its multiple moving parts in a shared memory system. And what works for one application can also be applied to several applications on a server cluster.
Shalom said GigaSpaces has gained the experience necessary to produce a cloud-enabled platform by moving applications into the cloud for financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, and online gaming companies, all of which can experience wide fluctuations in application traffic. It has been working on multi-tenant caching systems for cloud applications for the last two years in its predecessor products. On Jan. 30, it launched version 8.0 of its XAP Elastic Caching, giving an application data scalability in the cloud, and version 8.0 of its XAP Premium, which provided both data and application logic scalability in the cloud.
Shalom said GigaSpaces added a document API to the interfaces that its version 8.0 products could work with so that the rapidly accumulating, unstructured data of a Web application, as well as more structured data, could be managed in cache. The document API allows a new data item to be added to the data-capture schema without interrupting the operation of the system.
NoSQL systems typically follow the same plan of attack, and Shalom said CEAP makes use of Cassandra, an open source NoSQL system, for its data handling. GigaSpaces is a contributor to the Cassandra project, hosted by the Apache Software Foundation.
The cloud-enabled platform allows "continuous scaling of application data and services. Think of Amazon style of SimpleDB scaling," he said.