Hadoop Summit Recap Part Two – SELECT FROM hdfs WHERE bigdatavendor USING SQL

Probably the most widespread, and commercially imminent, theme at the Summit was “SQL on Hadoop.” Since last year, many offerings have been touted, debated, and some have even shipped. In this post, I offer a brief look at where things stood at the Summit and how we got there. To net it out: offerings today range from the not-even-submitted to GA – if you’re interested, a bit of familiarity will help. Even more useful: patience.

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VoltDB – DIY OLTP. Open Source. Win.

In a seemingly perfect marriage of product and target market, database pioneer Mike Stonebraker’s new in-memory database company VoltDB has emerged from stealth mode using the open source model, soon to be open core. Its first release, GPL licensed Community Edition will appeal to developers who need blindingly fast transaction processing and are willing to do a lot of work themselves to get there – the do it yourself (DIY) database. Who better than the Gluecon community? Gluecon was the perfect place to do the formal roll out, filled as it is with hands-on folks looking to work with NoSQL products (like Cassandra, CouchDB, MongoDB, Riak, Voldemort, etc.)

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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all of us expected, the number of announcements from the vendor community was low, and the content focus seemed a bit out of date.

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Kognitio Targets US Market, Bags Award

Kognitio, a UK-based player, has set its sights (and funded some moves) on the US market with its WX2 data warehouse offerings and is beginning to gain some traction here.

If you’ve been around a while, you may remember White Cross, an appliance vendor before they were called that – it’s not much of a stretch to change the name to WX2. The value proposition, says John Thompson, Chief Executive for North American operations, himself a longtime industry player who joined the firm in December 2007 , is simple: “better, faster, cheaper, and (importantly) easier.”

WX2 is software-based now, although Kognitio will still build commodity hardware-based appliances on request. It’s available in a variety of deployment styles: software license or appliance on your own site; hosted by the vendor out of their UK facility; or as a Data Warehouse as a Service (DaaS) offering. DaaS is new to many organizations, but not to Kognitio: WX2 has been handling some key applications for British Telecom for over a decade, and the customer just signed a new 2 -year deal. Kognitio understands the operations side, says Thompson, better than their competitors do, and can implement faster for clients who then have nothing more to do than “write us a check every month,” he says. But if the customer simply must have it on their own premises, Kognitio will support that and still run the system by tunneling in.

Several of the firm’s marketing claims can be debated, of course: better for what? Faster than whom, when? I won’t do that here. The company can and will talk tech with the engineers, but for most players in the DW appliance game the proof is in the POC. With a new exec and a new sales force on this side of the pond, Kognitio is being asked to the table and has had increasing success of late in head to head competition, and today claims 50 customers. Recent stateside wins include an intriguing project at the National Center for Genome Resources, and TRA (True TOI Accountability for Media) has chosen WX2 for an analytics platform they sell to the broadcast industry. WX2 recently won an award from Searchdatamanagement.com, and the firm has been pounding the beat to make itself known to the analyst and consultant communities, presenting at shows, and generating leads.

Thompson says the firm’s 10-man sales force has a solid pipeline for 2009 in the face of a tough economy. He’s aggressive for a reason: the firm is running at breakeven in Europe, and his mandate is to turn aggressive investment in North America into growth. Their pricing is aggressive; WX2 pricing starts at $50,000 per terabyte of data. Services for analytics support and projects are negotiated as needed, sometimes on a time and materials basis. Many of the requests are new to the customer, but Kognitio has seen them before and can quickly respond to changing needs. The firm is getting traction with partners who see the value in its non-proprietary architecture, and is worth a look for rapid, quick ROI analytic projects.