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The concept is simple, the execution potentially powerful: adding search to an open source data caching system frequently used by Java programmers.
Terracotta is adding search to its Ehcache cache management system, open source code that juggles and synchronizes a large data set in random access memory on a single server or across a server cluster.
The addition of Ehcache Search will give the cache management system the ability to pull out particular data or data sets via a search engine, without needing to go back to database operations based on disk.
It will also start Ehcache down a new path. In the past it was a passive distributor and handler of data on a server cluster. By adding search, it's taken its first step toward sorting, organizing, and analyzing data while it's in random access memory.
Terracotta CEO Amit Pandey says it's too soon to say whether cache management systems will one day do upfront in memory some of the same analytic functions currently done from disk by database systems. But that would be a logical outcome of the path Terracotta started down with its announcement Tuesday.
"If I could search, query, and join things in memory, I would have a rich set of capabilities. The cache system starts to look and feel like an in-memory database. This area is incredibly fertile right now," Pandey pointed out. A cache management system would sit in front of a database and have faster access to data, given its supervision of server memory or pooled server memories.
The search feature will be added as a no-cost addition to the open source version of Ehcache.
In November, Terracotta announced that it had added a BigMemory feature to Ehcache, allowing 100 GB or more of memory to be used by a Java application that previously had a 4-gigabyte effective memory limit, due to the latencies imposed by garbage collection. The Terracotta feature extended the applications access to data in RAM without adding to its garbage-collection responsibilities.
Gigaspaces and ScaleOut Software produce general purpose, commercial cache management systems. Oracle with its Coherence system, IBM with WebSphere eXtreme Scale, and Microsoft with SQL Server Cache Manager also offer caching systems.