August 2, 2010

Membase Server – We’re Making Great Progress

It seems like just yesterday we posted the bits for Beta 1 for Membase Server, but in fact it was over a month ago and since then we’ve demo’d Membase at a number of events and have had literally hundreds of conversations with users, customers, partners and anyone else interested in NoSQL solutions. It’s been a whirlwind (in a good way!) of activity and I wanted to personally thank everyone who’s been involved and provided feedback. Being the beta program manager, I wanted to touch specifically on the last month as it relates to the beta program at large:

NorthScale Membase Server (aka – The product) – It’s been a great pleasure to work with such a talented and dedicated group of individuals here at NorthScale. We are radically focused on making Membase simple, fast and elastic. We’ve met that charge with flying colors but there’s still a lot more work to be done. Here’s where we were and where we are: Beta 1 – Made available on June 23, it contained the basic features of complete memcached compatibility, replication and persistence of data as well as the ability to rebalance the data across multiple nodes. Alongside the beta release we introduced the Membase open-source project at membase.org. Beta 1.1 – A quick refresh of the beta 1 code to address some known issues and introduce Ubuntu support! One of the earliest and most sought after features, we now support Ubuntu as well as RedHat/CentOS. Windows support is coming soon (see below). Beta 2 – A major update of the code to fix bugs and add new features. Some of the key additions were:

  • Disk > RAM. The first release required that your RAM was equal to your persistent storage. No more! Now you can define more disk than you have RAM available and we will handle moving data “up” and “down” based upon access patterns.
  • Statistics in the UI – Our first pass at providing statistics of the cluster through the UI. Much more to come.
  • Standalone Moxi – There is a proxy running on every Membase server in order to maintain compatibility with the open source memcached protocol. Running it on the server introduces some performance overhead and so now you can run it locally on the client to eliminate any unnecessary network traffic. See Steve Yen’s post to learn more.

The release notes for all versions are available here. Beta Webinars – We’ve presented weekly webinar calls since the start of Beta1. I’ve fielded dozens of questions from participants and the feedback has been invaluable in making this beta program successful. A quick recap of the webinars to date (recordings are available):

  • July 1 – The first webinar! We had just launched the beta a few days before and I demo’ed the initial setup and installation of Membase.
  • July 8 – A demo on the rebalancing operation within Membase which allows you to add/remove nodes and automatically distribute the data and load across the cluster.
  • July 15 – Matt Ingenthron presented our REST interface and how it can be used to programmatically control your Membase cluster.
  • July 22 – I showed off the slick new features of our Beta 2 release: statistics in the UI, disk > RAM, client-side proxy for improved performance (Moxi)
  • July 29 – The most recent webinar where I showed off the TAP interface which is an extremely powerful piece of technology upon which is built replication, rebalancing, querying/indexing, Hadoop integration and much more!

Forums - The forums have provided a direct and public channel from users to NorthScale. The most popular topics have been:

  • Using Membase as a memcached server
  • Performance overhead
  • Deleting/flushing the storage bucket
  • Querying/search feature
  • Lack of capability in the GUI (yes, a bit of a black eye, but we’ve heard your cries!)

Looking forward – We’re not there yet people! There’s more to come including Windows support, multi-bucket support, and more UI cleanup/additions and … Your call to action! – Now is where I need YOUR help. A beta program is only as successful as the users who participate. It is my job to make sure that you guys are actively engaged and that beta feedback is heard and understood. Please send me (perry@northscale.com) any and all use cases, feedback, requests, problems and questions. I have been engaging with people on a daily basis and have been getting some great information but I always want more. And on a personal note – please get in touch with me or NorthScale the minute you experience an issue. Beta code has its bugs, but we don’t want them getting in the way of showing you what Membase can do…which is pretty darn cool, imho.

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