Google Cloud Spanner Enters With a Splash

This post was authored by Rick Greenwald, Merv Adrian and Donald Feinberg

Last week, Google launched its internal Cloud Spanner DBMS into a public beta. Claiming to be both strongly consistent (like a relational DBMSs) and horizontally scalable (like NoSQL DBMSs), Cloud Spanner’s internal use has given Google time to exploit unique physical characteristics of its cloud.

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DBMS 2015 Numbers Paint a Picture of Slow but Steady Change

Gartner recently published “Market Share: All Software Markets, Worldwide, 2015” (for clients) and the story the DBMS data tells continues themes we have been observing for some time in the market. Overall, the DBMS space continued to grow in high single digits, coming in at $35.9 Billion in US dollars – an 8.7% growth over the prior year’s $33.1 Billion, which itself represented growth of 8.9% over 2013. The picture is changing, and though the effects are just beginning to be significant, they will grow substantially through this decade.

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Strata Standards Stories: Different Stores For Different Chores

Has HDFS joined MapReduce in the emerging “legacy Hadoop project” category, continuing the swap-out of components that formerly answered the question “what is Hadoop?” Stores for data were certainly a focus at Strata/Hadoop World in NY, O’Reilly’s well-run, well-attended, and always impactful fall event. The limitations of HDFS, including its append-only nature, have become inconvenient enough to push the community to “invent” something DBMS vendors like Oracle did decades ago: a bypass. After some pre-event leaks about its arrival, Cloudera chose its Strata keynote to announce Kudu, a new columnstore written in C++, bypassing HDFS entirely. Kudu will use an Apache license and will be submitted to the Apache process at some undetermined future time.

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Hadoop Projects Supported By Only One Distribution

The Apache Software Foundation has succeeded admirably in becoming a place where new software ideas are developed: today over 350 projects are underway. The challenges for the Hadoop user are twofold: trying to decide which projects might be useful in big data-related cases, and determining which are supported by commercial distributors. In Now, What is Hadoop? And What’s Supported? I list 10 supported by only one: Atlas, Calcite, Crunch, Drill, Falcon, Kite, LLAMA, Lucene, Phoenix and Presto. Let’s look at them a little more.

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Prediction Is Hard – Especially About the Future

OK, I admit it – I stole the title from a much smarter man. I thought that man was Yogi Berra, but maybe not – more about that at the end of this post.

Every year, Gartner issues a series of Predicts documents. This year I had the pleasure of doing one for my team on Information Infrastructure Technology. Now, I’m a software guy, and the team I’m on is all software people, so a document assigned to our team would typically be about – well, information software technology. But that would have missed the point rather dramatically, so I connected with a few colleagues and got their OK to use some of their predictions in the small set any document can include.

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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