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The Scalability Continuum: What's Next for Terracotta?

Terracotta is revolutionizing the way it provides Java application scalability and availability along with database scalability.  In this year alone, Terracotta acquired Ehcache and Quartz, and built a Hibernate caching product.  To some, it may not be clear how these pieces fit together in Terracotta's technological vision.  Terracotta CTO Ari Zilka says in a recent letter, "all these pieces will come together in what we call a scalability continuum."  The "scalability continuum" and the circumvention of performance bottlenecks are at the heart of Terracotta's strategy going forward.  Ari Zilka has provided DZone with a preview of what you can expect next few years from Terracotta.

Terracotta has been very open in discussing its technical capabilities and its overall strategy.  Next week they will stream a live webcast about the product roadmap for the newly acquired Quartz scheduling system.  The company also has video demonstrating their Hibernate product's performance and scalability out of the box.  The scalability continuum is about taking applications and scaling them as high as needed without time consuming code changes, says Zilka.  "What it means for you is the freedom to write your applications one way, and in many cases take applications you have now and scale them as needed without rewriting, without painful re-architecture work, and without unnecessary costs," said Zilka.  "With our Ehcache-based products, you can take a new single node application, easily add performance enhancements tune and manage at runtime, and scale out to many nodes and up into virtualized environments and clouds. One scalability solution. No changes to the application itself."


Zilka says Terracotta's vision is also about circumventing database bottlenecks to scalability.  Movement to commodity servers, dominance of scaled-out N-tier architectures, and the widespread use of Java have lead to these bottlenecks, he says.  The advent of cloud computing amplifies this effect.  Zilka said, "In the past month I've spoken to at least 10 CIOs of Global 1000 firms and heard a consistent refrain: they realized their applications couldn't scale when they tried to move the cloud, and over-dependence on the database was the common cause. In short, the data tier in their applications could not scale in the cloud to keep up with a dynamically scalable compute tier driven by modern hardware virtualization. They want the benefits of highly virtualized environments and clouds, but they need to overcome this common data scalability barrier."

Terracotta's two-pronged mission is to resolve this dilemma and provide it's "scalability continuum" for applications.  First, with Ehcache Terracotta is leveraging the distributed caching tool's performance and ubiquity.  Zilka says plans to add cache management features are in the works, as well as caching services for clouds in partnership with companies like Amazon, Eucalyptus, and VMware.  Terracotta is also working on a Memcached "swap-in" available through REST that can be used in the cloud and in on-premises data centers.  Finally, Quartz will be transformed into a highly scalable job management service that is not dependent on the database for reliability.  As a result of the recent acquisitions, Zilka says Terracotta will benefit enormously from the minds that created Quartz and Ehache.

In addition, Terracotta hasn't forgotten its core offering, the Terracotta server.  In a previous interview with DZone, Zilka said that the Terracotta 3.1.1 server is "three to ten times faster than everyone, but the new Terracotta server in 3.2 looks like it's going to be about 4 times faster than the current Terracotta server."
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