Vertica Gathers Momentum with New Release

Vertica, one of the fastest growing analytic database players, with nearly 100 installations in just two years, announced its new version 3.0 at TDWI this week. Dave Menninger, VP of Marketing, was kind enough to sit down with IT Market Strategy and offer a preview last week, since I could not attend the TDWI event. Dave joined in September of 2008 and has been going a mile a minute ever since, keeping up with a formidable team that includes Mike Stonebraker and Jerry Held, with Don Haderle and Ray Lane acting as advisors. If you don’t know who those folks are, you need to spend some time learning history! Google them.

After a first shipment in 2006 (to one of Stonebraker’s other companies, complex event processing pioneer Streambase), Vertica got rolling in 2007, capturing 16 customers and launching an appliance play at year-end with HP and Red Hat. It more than doubled its base in 2008, and this year looks on track to continue substantial inroads. Stonebraker has a great name and the company is using it effectively, teeing him up for his usual provocative comments – see the discussion of Mapreduce on Curt Monash’s blog here for a great example, if you like to dig deep. (Curt also has several useful posts about Vertica well worth your time.) This enhances the company’s visibility, but the product sells itself quite well, thank you, with customers raving about its performance on industry-standard hardware. Price performance is a huge piece of the value proposition for Vertica – competing with Oracle on performance, and columnar database pioneer Sybase IQ on price is providing a nice wedge to enter, and help grow, the market, which has been surging of late.

Vertica has been making its mark in the usual industry sectors that go for analytical databases – financial services, telecom, and marketing services.  Dave is hard at work on building things out – marketing infrastructure, partner relationships (3 people already on this), international distribution. All that boring stuff separates the little startups from the players, and Vertica’s strong, experienced management team will count for a lot in the year ahead.

“We’re a next-generation analytic database, incorporating many new ideas along with the columnar storage architecture,” Menninger says, with a nod to Sybase’s pioneering status. Clearly, Vertica realizes that taking on the leader, with over 1650 production customers, will be no small task.  Release 3.0 adds significant new features, continuing an aggressive schedule of releases roughly every 6 months. It picks up many of the SQL-99 one-pass functions that the big OLTP players have been adding, but specialist analytic database vendors, especially older ones, have not yet incorporated. Vertica has also added time-slice functionality, a big favorite with its Wall Street customers. Additional data types (although not unstructured data yet – but watch this space) and new functions also add value. An example is an IP conversion function. It’s useful for telcos – allows them to compare and manipulate IPV4 addresses as unsigned integers in one step, teeing them up for all kinds of interesting analysis (much of which the telcos won’t want to talk about, we suspect.)

Last year, Vertica touted a record database load benchmark here. The tweaks that allowed them to hit those numbers are incorporated in the new release; they include making intelligent decisions about the relative order of loading fact and dimension tables, simplified by improved parallelism and multithreading. Improved manageability, including new graphical tools and improved resource management, automated statistics on query performance and improved partitioning all meet the demands of Vertica’s early customers, who are now scaling up and need these features to keep pace. And significant added security via SSL client security encryption and LDAP/Kerberos/Active Directory integration will also remove some barriers for certain customers.

Vertica is another success story in a market that keeps showing strength in a difficult economic climate. Expect vigorous competition – and put them  on your short list if their capabilities fit your needs.

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

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