MySQL Users Conference 2008 has number of Storage Engines presented which claim to Kick Ass. Walking in exhibition hall you could see KickFire, Infobright, Tokutek, ScaleDB. I have not seen NitroDB in the exhibition call this year but they are also worth to mention.
It is interesting to see all of them showing benchmarks with great numbers and glossy marketing materials explaining why they are better.
I’ve seen enough of marketing benchmarks at my life to really believe them. Marketing benchmarks typically show the cases when product excels but leaving limitations and cases when product does not work well and shows sub par results – and these cases always exist. Making decisions in software design you often have to made tradeoffs which makes it especially hard to get a product which performs best for ALL cases, and keep in mind performance is not the only thing you may be concerned about.
What makes it even complicated most of these solutions are close source (Kickfire also uses proprietary custom hardware) which makes it hard to get independent product evaluation.
Many of storage engines will indeed offer you benefits they promise but, but you also need to make sure they do not break or slow down other features your application use. For example you may notice your application does a lot of primary key lookups and MySQL Cluster promises good performance and scalability. But if at the same time you have queries with complex Joins which you need to work fast as well this may not be the right choice.
So make sure to get as much information about Performance and Design limitations as you can and be aware – Sales and Marketing guys which you may start speaking with may not know them all so make sure to do evaluation for your particular application needs before getting too excited