Cluster Databases and an Alternative

We all know that a growing number of Web sites attract an ever-increasing volume of total Web users. As the social networks have expanded their invitations to all demographic groups — meaning Facebook has become more than just a Saturday-night venue for college students checking out their crushes — and Google’s brand name has earned colloquial status as a verb, databases for popular Web sites and applications noticeably groan under the stress of success.

Aster Data Systems saw a gap in the market — which provides a dearth of databases that allow companies to quickly analyze data in the tens or hundreds of terabytes near its source while keeping costs low.

“This was increasingly apparent as a need in large-scale Internet companies such as Google, Yahoo or advertising networks. [They] had built their own systems to manage data volumes for analysis of this size on clusters of commodity hardware,” said Mayank Bawa, CEO and co-founder of Aster.

Aster’s nCluster customers, including MySpace — which processes, analyzes and stores upwards of 200 terabytes of active data — receive combined processing, networking and data recovery in Internet-scale analytic databases. nCluster software’s architecture separates data workloads in three layers: one that grows or shrinks depending on the number of data users, one dedicated to data analysis and one for data loading.

MySpace uses nCluster to study Web traffic. It has a 100-node cluster that can juggle the functional demands on 360 terabytes of data. As soon as new nodes are plugged into this…


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