Oracle Coherence Review

Extend's proxy instance concept allows flexibility, even with the Enterprise Edition.

Valuable Features

  • Coherence Extend with its concept of a proxy instance, thus allowing flexibility even with the Enterprise Edition
  • Read- and write-through capability
  • A good community maintaining the Coherence Incubator project: Though this isn’t directly from the vendor, the fact that such wonderful documentation exists makes it easier for the users of the product.
  • Ease of clustering and the data fabric operation + querying
  • Multi-cast free operation

Improvements to My Organization

I am unable to name specific projects and companies for confidentiality reasons. I have, however, listed the high-level aspects of how Coherence benefited us.

For company X, a major telecom provider in the continental United States, we had the GRID edition here. A single logical cache scattered across various geographies ensured we had only one cache to look against (location transparency) at the same time, ensuring high availability. With Coherence taking care of CAP (Consistency, Availability and Partition Tolerance) we had little to worry about in those aspects. The ability to add any number of server instances and the ability to query with a simple API reaped benefits in our application scaling and the developers happy with the ease of coding.

Room for Improvement

In short, features across editions but this is a moot point if it directly relates to room for improvement and is a subjective topic. Better support for active-active data center capability in Enterprise Edition. We could achieve this through a fully replicated cache or having our distributed caches in a single cluster placed across two different centers. The former doesn’t scale for high-write scenarios and is available only in the GRID edition while we used Enterprise edition in our project. The latter will result in direct coupling between two data centers which defeats the purpose of active-active data center availability.

We had to write a custom solution based on listening to events transported between data centers on Kafka infrastructure, but had to go through a lot of trouble to suppress events originating from the same data center to make sure we don’t go into an infinite loop in achieving replication. Easier API support for this purpose would have helped.
Greater tooling support for moving across editions and implementing Coherence Extend would also help.

Use of Solution

I have used it for more than two years.

Stability Issues

I have not encountered any stability issues.

Scalability Issues

I have not encountered any scalability issues.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is 8/10.

Previous Solutions

I did not previously use a different solution.

Initial Setup

Initial setup was complex. We wrote a lot of wrapper code around the Coherence libraries in order to make it easier for the developer.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Be aware of the pitfalls of using Enterprise Edition in a vast enterprise ecosystem. Specifically, keep in mind the long-term needs of the evolution of your organization’s enterprise infrastructure and susceptibility to change of technology. For example, only GRID edition supports replicated caches, local transactions and different types of clients across tech stacks.

Other Solutions Considered

Before choosing this product, we looked at Terracotta and other custom caching solutions.

Other Advice

Make sure you understand which edition gives which capability, and how that maps to your current needs and your long-term infrastructure evolution. Build wrapper libraries abstracting your actual caching implementation to make it easier for moving across editions and even vendors in the future.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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