Software AG announced its acquisition of Terracotta, the sponsor of the open source distributed data cache for Java applications called Ehcache. Terracotta claims that Ehcache is the most widely used Java cache. The company sells enterprise support for Ehcache, as well as an Ehcache-based solution called BigMemory.Today
Software AG is the fourth largest company in Europe and is best known for as a business process management (BPM) software vendor. According to the company's announcement: "This acquisition will allow Software AG to provide innovative cloud solutions and dramatically increase the performance and scalability of its Business Process Excellence platform."
What is "Big Memory" Anyhow?
Terracotta CEO Amit Pandey explained Terracotta's value proposition to us in an interview in February:
Most CIO offices feel an imperative to make data more accessible in real-time. Most people know that really the only way to do that is put it in-memory, where the applications can reach it very quickly. The name grabs people's imaginations, they dig in and find it is what they thought it was, and they start doing proof of concepts and we go from there. [...]
I'll give you an example. There's a large bank that had its data distributed across 30 servers to achieve the amount on in-memory data they need. With BigMemory, they were able to bring it down to two servers. That was a huge win for them because the cost of administration suddenly dropped. The complexity of running 30 servers isn't even comparable to the complexity of running two.
He went on to clarify:
We're not saying we are replacing analytics in the database. We're not providing all the heavyweight reporting capabilities that business intelligence tools offer today for databases and we're not doing all the analytics. But what we are providing is a very simple, powerful, lightweight search where you can do real-time analysis of customer behavior and things like that. Over time we'll make it a richer reporting set.
In-memory is a hot topic right now, thanks in part to SAP pushing its in-memory analytics platform HANA at Sapphire last week. HANA, however, is not a direct competitor to BigMemory. According to RedMonk co-founder James Governor, competitors include Oracle Coherence, IBM eXtreme Scale, Hazelcast and Gigaspaces.
"Indeed distributed cache is well known enough to be seen as a 'competitor' to NoSQL approaches," Governor wrote. "Both take load off the database - less database work generally means greater scalability"
Open Source in the Enterprise
This acquisition is noteworthy in that this is Software AG's first foray into open source. The announcement notes "The acquisition also extends Software AG's business model options by adding a large and thriving open source community."
In-Memory and In the Cloud
The announcement says that Software AG will use use Terracotta's in-memory technology to power more resource intensive BPM projects such as complex event processing, mobile technology, cloud distribution and virtualization. Governor thinks this move is all about starting a PaaS for enterprise Java applications.
But Terracotta's technology could benefit projects built on existing Software AG products as well. According to a blog post Terracotta CTO Ari Zilka: "The good news for Software AG's customers is that Terracotta's snap-in performance and scale works equally well with packaged software such as WebMethods--enabling WebMethods customers to scale up with BigMemory and scale out with Ehcache--as it does for the direct integrations that many of our customers have done to-date."
The acquisition furthers the consolidations we've been seeing in many cloud technology markets, including infrastructure-as-a-service, PaaS and columnar databases. Don't be surprised to see more acquisitions in the in-memory space, especially of smaller players like Hazelcast and Gigaspaces.