VMware's New Data Management System

VMware Launch vFabric SQLFire

Jessica Thornsby

“Everything about SQLFire is linearly scalable.”

VMware recently announced the beta of a new product, ‘vFabric
.’ This distributed data management system promised
features usually only found in NoSQL databases, but with a SQL
interface. In this interview, JAXenter speaks to David McJannet,
about this new product.

JAXenter: Can you introduce us to the new
vFabric SQLFire offering?

David McJannet: A challenge for many of the
applications built today revolves around data. Specifically, the
volume of data that can adversely impact application performance.
This can be particularly challenging for high volume web
applications, for which scaling the data tier can be a real
challenge when using traditional databases which face the inherent
limitations of disk I/O.

This has led many users to investigate alternatives — many of
them memory-oriented — to complement the traditional database

vFabric SQLFire is an in-memory data management technology that
provides data at memory speed, linear scale, and a standard SQL
interface for your web applications. And unlike many other
approaches, SQLFire leverages the time-tested vFabric GemFire while adding familiar and
standard SQL and JDBC interfaces to the service.

For users looking to overcome some of the limitations of
traditional databases, SQLFire is definitely worth a look. I would
encourage people to download and trial the beta.

JAXenter: What technologies are at work in
vFabric SQLFire?

David: vFabric SQLFire leverages the technology
used in vFabric GemFire, a proven distributed data management
platform that is a core element of the VMware Cloud Application

The primary difference is rather than interacting with this
platform through a custom set of API’s, users can leverage their
existing SQL skills to add this in-memory approach to their
application with little to no modification to their

JAXenter: According to your website: “SQLFire
offers some of the best features usually only seen in NoSQL
databases.” What features are these?

David: One of the key principles of SQLFire is
the use of a shared-nothing distributed architecture, the same
architecture used by many NoSQL datastores.

Many of SQLFire’s benefits derive from this architecture choice.
For example:

  • Linear Scalability: When you need more
    capacity you simply add more nodes: adding nodes means faster data
    reads, writes and queries. SQLFire nodes can be added and removed
    at any time and very easily so users don’t need to predict their
    data needs ahead of time.
  • Built-in High Availability: SQLFire has
    built-in support for replication, which means rows in database
    tables will exist in multiple nodes simultaneously. If a node
    crashes, data can simply be retrieved from another node. The
    architecture is such that the client will not even be aware of the

Linear scalability is a common feature of NoSQL databases.
However SQLFire also provides transactions, which most NoSQL stores
don’t provide because of the complexity associated with scaling
transactions. The unique element is that SQLFire’s transactions are
also linearly scalable, in other words if you find your application
is bottlenecked on transactions, you can add more nodes into the
distributed system and do more transactions. This is in contrast to
legacy clustered SQL databases, where adding more nodes will cause
transaction throughput to drop.

To sum it up, everything about SQLFire is linearly scalable,
just like you see in NoSQL, but with support for transactions, a
stronger data model and rich queries. For more information on these
feature and more, visit the SQLFire community site.

JAXenter: Who are you targeting with vFabric

David: vFabric SQLFire is really appropriate
for anyone looking to build high performance applications – either
OLTP or analytics apps. The in-memory nature, standard SQL
interface and linear scalability make it a good choice for any high
performance application.

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