VMware Acquires Continuent: What it Means for the Cloud World

Continuent is the leader in DB Clustering and Replication. I’m subscribed to their newsletter for many years. On October 29, I got an email from Robert Hodges (CEO) and Eero Teerikorpi (Executive Chairman and COO) of Continuent, announcing the acquisition of Continuent by Vmware, quite an astounding news to my eyes.

I have had the opportunity to work a lot with Continuent solutions and products in the past. I worked on a project where high scalability and performance of a MySQL database where a priority, and I wanted to make the database tier totally transparent to the front-end tier, as if it was a single DB server, providing only a DNSName.

I initially thought about a solution with a MySQL Proxy installed on each FrontEnd server, so that they could access the data on the localhost (the proxy then rotated the requests to DB servers based on the query). But the MySQL Proxy project never released upgrades after the initial alpha version, so I looked for an alternative which I found in Tungsten, a service developed by Continuent that includes features like proxy balancers and routing.

Continuent did a lot of road since then. The solutions they offer for High Availability, Disaster Recovery, Scale Up, Balancing, Replication and Real-Time Conversion between different relational DB engine are really amazing. Let’s see a few examples:

  • Database-as-a-Service: Create a data service in physical or virtual environments.
  • Multi-master, multi-site: Optimal solutions to scale with highly efficient real-time replicas.
  • Oracle Replication: Replicate data from Oracle to MySQL or the other way round in real-time.
  • Replication to Real-Time Analytics and Big Data: fast and real-time replicas between RDBMS and NoSQL like MongoDB, Hadoop, and Vertica.
  • Load Balancing: increase throughput by balancing automatically among many replicas.

In my opinion, thanks to this acquisition VMware will be able to gain a major competitive advantage, a very important step to get new space on the market against the big Public Cloud providers.
VMware started years ago to test the market for Public Cloud with CloudFoundry, an open source project to build a PaaS platform, someway similar to Heroku, with a command line interface to instantiate resources, deploy new software releases, etc. This project was then removed from VMware with the birth of the SpinOut Pivotal, directed by the great Paul Maritz.

Under the area of Public IaaS VMware started its journey with vCloud Express partners like Terremark, a federation of service providers using the same platform and software that allowed customers to upload their own VM on the selected provider, using a vSphere client plugin, a kind of transition from private to public cloud data centers.

Very recently VMware announced vCloud Air, a project to become a Public Cloud Providers with their Data Center while maintaining its network of service provider partners

As of now, VMware can provide a few services if we compare them with the big AWS or Azure. But the potential of the solutions of Continuent, might allow them to create a service superior to the well known AWS RDS and SQL Azure.

With the potential of multi-master replication and load balancing, VMware may provide in a short period a fully managed RDBMS service, accessible with a single DNSName, without any limits about computing power, with pay per use model. That is, they could start drawing the perfect PaaS.

In addition, with the potential of real-time replication from MySQL or Oracle to Hadoop, MongoDB, and Vertica, VMware could place interesting online services for the BigData world.

In short, VMware has added enormous potential placement with this acquisition. I’m really curious to see how long it will take to release online something interesting and powerful.

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