More TDWI Notes – ParAccel Rolling On, HP Stalled, Vertica Leading Insurgents

On my second day at TDWI, I was in meetings all day – events like this are a great opportunity for analysts to catch up with many of the companies they follow at one time, and this particular one was packed with sponsors. Congrats to the folks who sell sponsorships – they had a packed exhibit hall, and a lot of very interested attendees. I got a chance to chat at a few booths (all buzzing), ask a few attendees some real-world questions (and was asked some surprising ones myself), and get a sense of the workload in the trenches (heavy and growing.)

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EMC Buys Greenplum – Big Data Realignment Continues

EMC’s acquisition of Greenplum, announced today as a cash transaction, reaffirms the obvious: the Big Data tsunami upends conventional wisdom. It has already reshaped the market, spawning the most ferment in the RDBMS (and non-R DBMS via the noSQL players) space in years. When I first posted on Greenplum over a year ago, I said that

Open source + capital has created an intriguing new model of rapid innovation in “mature” markets, and the database space – like BI – is not a done deal. It is indeed possible to escape the gravity well, if you execute. Greenplum is getting it done, and is among the new stars to watch.”

Why the open source reference? Greenplum uses a parallelization layer atop PostgreSQL (like Aster, another of the new breed of ADBMS.)

Now EMC has written the next chapter in that story. In the process, it adds a new piece (after literally dozens of others in the past few years) to its own portfolio, which already includes unstructured data (via Documentum) and virtualization (via VMWare), layered in among the industry-leading storage and information management pieces. Disruptive? You bet. Is EMC finished? I doubt it. Candidates? BI tools, ETL, MDM, data integration come to mind. Losers? At least one big one. Read on. Read more of this post

Oracle Exadata: Early Signs Promising

Exadata is looking good. In the past few months, I’ve had the chance to talk to several early adopters of Oracle Exadata V2, some in connection with a sponsored white paper Oracle has just published. It’s still early, but I see this product as a milestone, regardless of its commercial success. That is still to be determined, although I wouldn’t bet against it. How it will be affected by Oracle’s execution of the Sun acquisition is another open question, and the recent surprise layoffs, which showed that either the announced expectations were laughably off base or Ellison’s early announcements about  hiring plans were less than candid, don’t bode too well for the near term. Rob Enderle made some strong and provocative points in his guest post here. Read more of this post

New TPC-H Record – Virtualized by ParAccel, VMware

You can set performance records in a virtualized environment – that’s the message of the new 1 Tb TPC-H benchmark record (scroll down to see the 1Tb results) just released by ParAccel and VMware. Running on VMware’s vSphere 4, the ParAccel Analytic Database (PADB) delivered a one-two punch: not only the top performance number for a 1 terabyte (TB) benchmark, but the top price-performance number as well. The results in a nutshell: 1,316,882 Composite Queries per Hour (QphH), a price/performance of 70 cents/QphH, and a data load rate of over 3.5 TBs per hour. ParAccel moved quickly to promote the result; oddly, VMware seems to have been asleep at the switch, with no promotion on its site as the release hit the wires, and a bland quote from a partner exec in the release itself.

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Oracle’s TPC Assertions Don’t Help Its Credibility

Oracle has been making much of its recent benchmark results. Its new TPC campaign may backfire, however; its deceptive assertions do it no credit, and obscure some interesting technical advances (such as its first use of flash technology) behind mislabeling and deliberate omission of important facts. The “benchmark wars” are far less active than they were in their heyday, when new leapfrogging results occurred quarterly, or even more often. TPC-C, the transaction processing measure, has long been understood to be a poor representation of today’s real transaction types. At various times, most of the DBMS vendors have stopped issuing them – but they come back when they think they can get a headline or two. Some hardware vendors have also been dismissive of the benchmark; in fact, until this one, Sun had been a skeptic for a number of years. Read more of this post

Kickfire Disrupts DW Economics, Targets Mainstream ADBMS Opportunities

In just 18 months, Kickfire has established itself as one of the most intriguing of the ADBMS insurgents. It espouses a radical go-to-market strategy: target the overwhelming majority of the market in the sub-5Tb space, and let others battle over who’s doing best at the top end, fighting over a small group of prospects. Kickfire also takes a radically different architectural approach: it uses an “SQL chip” to run much of its work in hardware, to dramatic effect in performance.

In April 2008, the Kickfire data warehouse appliance was announced at a MySQL conference, and simultaneously the company released 100Gb and 300Gb TPC-H benchmarks  that transformed price-performance expectations at the low end of the market. 6 months later the appliance became generally available, and 6 months after that had its first production reference. Since then, the company has had two encouraging quarters, and the product is now in the hands of some two dozen early adopters, a half dozen of whom are referenceable production sites. I spent some time recently with Kickfire CEO Bruce Armstrong to discuss the story so far, and Kickfire’s recent announcement of Kickfire 1.5 and the 3000 series appliance.

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TDWI Disappoints, But There is Hope Ahead

Few events offer as much promise as The Data Warehouse Institute World Conferences. With a deep educational focus, TDWI provides important opportunities for users. For vendors, the event offers one of the most focused, serious prospect audiences possible. My expectations, tempered though they were by economic realities, were still fairly high for this year’s San Diego event. Unfortunately, the drop in volume was greater than all of us expected, the number of announcements from the vendor community was low, and the content focus seemed a bit out of date.

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Aster Appliance Elevates MapReduce Chatter, ADBMS Visibility

Since my last post about Aster, the analytic DBMS (ADBMS) vendor has added another arrow to its quiver. Its new MapReduce Data Warehouse Appliance Express Edition starts at $50,000, and includes Aster nCluster on Dell hardware and a copy of MicroStrategy BI software for up to 1 Tb of user data, which Aster clearly sees as a sweet spot. (MicroStrategy has been doing a lot of seeding with the ADBMSs lately; it also has  an introductory bundling deal with Sybase IQ.)  Delivering a ‘compute rich’ appliance on commodity hardware, with reduced operating costs, certainly hits all the right notes. But is 1 Tb  the sweet spot for MapReduce? I think not – although it makes a great starting point, and that may be Aster’s real opportunity – give ‘em a taste of what SQL plus MapReduce can do, and watch them demand more and more. And sell it to them. Dell and MicroStrategy should love this strategy – if it works. Read more of this post

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