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Startup Of The Week: Xkoto's 'Active' Approach To Database Availability

Load-balancing middleware distributes database workloads across commodity servers.
Increase the availability and scalability of your databases while significantly lowering costs. That proposition is helping Xkoto get its foot in the data center door at a growing number of companies, with 17 new customers signed in 2007. Having targeted IBM's DB2 initially, the newcomer plans a version of its product for Microsoft's SQL Server by midyear.
--John Foley


HEADQUARTERS: Waltham, Mass.

PRODUCT: Gridscale load-balancing software supports multiple active copies of a database on commodity servers

PRINCIPALS: David Patrick, CEO; Albert Lee, co-founder and chief strategy officer

INVESTORS: GrandBanks Capital, GrowthWorks Canadian Fund

EARLY CUSTOMERS: The Children's Place, United Healthcare

David Patrick, CEO

CEO Patrick joined the company in November

Why load-balancing software? Increased database performance and scalability across servers are two reasons companies license Gridscale, but the No. 1 selling point is continuous availability, says CEO Patrick. Early adopters in financial services, health care, and travel can't afford the downtime associated with database glitches, maintenance, and upgrades.

Gridscale supports three or more "active copies" of a relational database running across a cluster of low-cost servers. It sits between those database copies and the applications accessing them, managing multiple, concurrent data requests. If one database server fails, the remaining servers automatically pick up the workload. Gridscale 3.5, released in December, adds support for DB2 on Windows, a Web interface for administrators, and connection pooling for improved application performance.

Products from other vendors perform some of same functions as Gridscale. IBM's High Availability and Disaster Recovery, Oracle's Real Application Clusters, and Symantec's Veritas Cluster Server are examples. Xkoto officials say Gridscale's strengths include ease of use, its "active copy" approach, and support for multiple databases. The company estimates one-time savings of $295,000 and recurring annual savings of $60,000. Says co-founder Lee, "Our solution does more and the cost is less."

Xkoto was spun off from Halcyon Monitoring Solutions, and its co-founders worked together there. CEO Patrick was previously Novell's general manager of Linux, open source, and platform services.

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