Gigaspaces targets "the Digg effect"

Application vendor offers platform free to startups.

Hoping to seed grassroots interest, Gigaspaces is making its enterprise-targeted eXtreme Application Platform middleware available for free to startup firms.

The platform is used to scale out applications across commodity hardware in response to demand. Gigaspaces, based in Israel, generally targets large companies with high-throughput, low-latency transactional systems, such as trading firms. Therefore, the product is quite expensive, beginning at US$20,000 per processor.

But the Web-driven economy means that even small companies can benefit from such technology, said Geva Perry, Gigaspaces' chief marketing officer. "There's something called the Digg effect," he said, noting the common instance of a Web-based service or application company suddenly getting red-hot, thanks to high-profile postings on aggregator sites like Digg.com and Slashdot.org. "Suddenly you're getting all this incredible traffic volume."

Perry argued that startups are often ill-prepared to deal with the by-products of success, having built their sites with technologies that aren't scalable enough to handle huge spikes in demand.

Firms must have less than $5 million in annual revenue to join the startup program. However, if income increases beyond that level, they do not have to begin paying for the software.

Still, there are clear limitations to Gigaspaces' give-away. Startup participants will receive support only through Gigaspaces' community forums. To get full support, they will have to buy a license, which Gigaspaces would offer at a 50 percent discount.

"Our assumption is that if anyone's doing anything of economic consequence, they're going to want the support," Perry said.

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