There are a lot of arguments today over just what defines elasticity in the cloud. Among some of the more devout adherents of cloud computing, the data structure underneath any real cloud application has to be elastic, and the only way to achieve that is by relying on distributed cache servers such as open source memcached technology or more proprietary approaches from companies such as SnapLogic.
A fundamental tenet of this belief is that SQL databases as we know them today are not elastic in truest sense of the word. So rather than rely on a database to process data, the database essentially reverts back to being the software we use to access stored data. The distributed caching server, which can process data in memory much faster, becomes the primary engine for processing data in the cloud.
One company trying to leverage this shift in enterprise computing focus is NorthScale, which recently announced a free offering based on the open source memcached distributed cache server. According to NorthScale chief strategy officer James Philips, the company plans to deliver a richer commercial implementation of a memcached server that will build on the features in the free version
Oracle officials have take note of the trend towards distributed cache in the cloud, but contend that in segments where performance really matters customers will turn to its proprietary cache server technology coupled with its high performance database. Some customers, conceded Richard Sarwal, Oracle vice president of product development, may opt for an open source approach anchored by MySQL, Oracle's open source database, but when it comes to performance-sensitive applications, Sarwal said Oracle's proprietary offerings are still head and shoulders above all rival offerings in terms of performance.
When you get right down to it, the debate over where the center of the data management is going to be in the cloud is still developing. But one thing that is clear is that open source technologies seem to be gaining momentum in the cloud as customers seize the seismic shift in corporate computing as an excuse to also lower some of their licensing costs by embracing more open source technologies.