IBM’s IOD Showcases DB2, Informix, InfoSphere. Now, About Marketing….

It was hard to decide where to look first in Las Vegas this year at IBM’s flagship information management event. Coming as it did on the heels of a massive, sprawling Oracle Open World, it was also overwhelming, but distinguished itself immediately by its focus. Whereas Oracle has smashed together hardware systems, apps, middleware, java and development, systems management and database into a bewildering multi-site show, IBM continues to run separate events for Websphere, Rational, Tivoli, and Lotus. No single IBM event trumpets “we’re the biggest,” and they don’t take over the towns they’re in; the content seems a bit more manageable. And as an attendee who hopes to get a broad view, I’m happy with that. However, as I’ll discuss below, Oracle is winning the messaging war nonetheless.

There was indeed talk of systems at IoD this year, as Smart Analytics Systems got a refresh and some added units on x-based platforms. Flash memory additions to the x-based 5600, bundling InfoSphere and Cognos along with an updated Linux release, provide the basis for a good story along with more cores, memory and storage. A similar story is possible for the POWER-based 7700, which also added the new Blue Darter solid state disk (SSD.) And the z audience gets the 9600, with its sidecar, the transparent offload to the Smart Analytics Optimizer. Yes, IBM has a column-based database, with innovative storage tweaks and an optimizer that knows when to use it and when not to. Great promise there.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Try this: ask 10 IT people what Exadata is, and what Smart Analytics Systems are. Ask them who makes the offerings, and what they do. Go ahead…I’ll wait….

Back? OK. Here’s what I learned, after doing that experiment at 3 events attended by IT people (data people, in fact.) 8 of 10 I asked knew Oracle makes Exadata and it’s a wicked fast platform for data. 4 of 10 knew who makes the other one, and fewer knew why. On visibility and buzz, game Oracle.

There is much more to talk about, and visibility and buzz are not everything. IBM’s numbers continue to be good, and nobody in Armonk is complaining. But the IBM Software brand needs to get more attention, more investment, and a tighter, more focused story. The good news? Conversations I’ve been having suggest that it will in 2011, and it’s about time. Read more of this post

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

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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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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