Kyle Bean for Fortune
By Heather Clancy
September 25, 2014

It seems startups never tire of challenging Oracle’s dominance in databases.

Eight-year-old Clustrix, founded by a former EMC Isilon executive and financed with $54.3 million from backers including High Bar Capital and Sequoia Capital, offers a novel twist with a launch this week: its latest software was engineered for e-commerce sites with visitor traffic that fluctuates depending on the shopping season. In other words, pretty much every one in existence.

Its secret is dynamic scaling, a feature that helps the database keep pace with unusual peaks in buying activity, new Clustrix CEO Mike Azevedo told Data Sheet. (Azevedo officially assumed that title in early September. His resume includes stints at IBM and Veritas.)

For shoppers, scalability means no noticeable slowdowns during the transaction process. For online sellers, it means the site is less likely to crash under the strain of a particularly fruitful selling day.

“It’s that time of year again, the time when everyone starts speculating about how many sites will crash on Cyber Monday,” Azevedo says.

His company’s contention is that online sellers running the widely used Oracle MySQL database risk site slowdowns or even outages as visitor volume increases. “Many companies using MySQL are unprepared to handle website traffic spikes and don’t realize they’re at risk year round, not just during the holiday buying season,” he says.

MySQL was snapped up by Oracle (ORCL) as part of its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Ironically, it was originally created as cost-effective alternative to Oracle’s proprietary software. The technology routinely shows up in monthly market size and popularity reports as the top open source database.

Hoping to entice converts, Clustrix engineered its technology to be compatible with both MySQL and with e-commerce software from eBay’s Magento division, widely used by fast-growing online sellers. Annual subscriptions start at $18,000.

Clustrix databases already handle one trillion transactions per month for customers including Rakuten, a Japanese e-commerce company, and NoMoreRack, a daily deals site. Last year, the technology helped the latter manage triple its usual buyer traffic on its busiest shopping day of the year.

This item first appeared in the Sept. 23 edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the business of technology. Sign up here.

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