Kognitio called me for a briefing this morning on their WX-2 product. Technical highlights included:
- Their core technology is MPP/shared-nothing data warehousing.
- Unlike most other vendors (but like Greenplum), they are available software-only.
- Like DATallegro and Netezza, they have no global indexing.
- Unlike the other MPP players, they don’t hash partition the data and lead with hash joins. Rather, they have local compressed bitmap indices on every node.
- Similarly, they distribute data utterly randomly and have no concept of range partitioning whatsoever.
- Probably for that reason, WX-2 reads data in small 32K blocks. This forfeits the benefit of sequential reads, unless David Aldridge is correct that Linux can take care of that on its own.
- They seem more chip-heavy than DATallegro and Netezza. A dual-core Opteron blade with 16 or 32 gigabytes of RAM talks to 144, 288, or in some cases 600 gigabytes of disk (before mirroring).
- The position themselves somewhat as being a memory-centric product supplier. While I suspect this is exaggerated, it probably indicates that they’ve put some work into managing RAM as well as disk.
Much like the other “new” MPP data warehouse vendors, Kognitio claims to never have knowingly been outbenchmarked, whether on performance or on TCO factors such as ease of installation.
Kognitio is essentially the company formerly known as White Cross, which recently merged with – well, with a company called Kognitio. They’re UK-based, and have sold about 10 copies of their database software, about 9 of those to UK customers. But they’re coming seriously to the US Real Soon Now. They also are releasing in a couple weeks a new version (Version 6) of their product, with improvements in query streaming, workload management, and so on. They report having about 70 employees.
White Cross originally had an integrated BI and DBMS product, running on customer hardware. The main investors were famed venture capitalists Warburg Pincus (the guys who also funded BEA and Veritas predecessor OpenVision), and Geoff Squire, a former Very Senior Executive at Oracle and then OpenVision, and the guy who brought them the deal. Warburg Pincus and other VCs have been pretty much wiped out in a cramdown round (oops — I did due diligence for Warburg), and there now are two main investors, one of them still Geoff.
They’ve now ported to standard/commodity hardware, and seem to be deemphasizing some or all of their analytic technology. Along the way Kognitio ran a service bureau with 1000 nodes or so, confirming scalability, and are confident that they can do proofs-of-concept in the multiple-hundred-node range from service bureaus now. They also have a customer win with 290 nodes, although the rest seem to be more in the 30-125 node range.
A key part of the Kognitio message is “utterly standard hardware.” They run on standard blades from HP and IBM or other vendors (I get the impression more HP to date), in standard enclosures, using the standard NICs inside the enclosures (1 gigabit Ethernet) and 10 gigabit Ethernet between enclosures. To date they haven’t even purchased or assembled systems for their customers, but it seems clear that demand will drive them to do so, as the MPP market is pretty appliance-centric, at least in a weak sense of “appliance.” Two particular advantages they cite to this approach are:
- Essentially instant availability on new CPUs, whether from AMD or Intel, since blades to use such chips are available with days of announcement. That said, I note that DATallegro did announce a new version the day Woodcrest came out, and that IBM’s DB2 BCUs use standard hardware.
- Very low hardware maintenance prices (1-2% of purchase cost, apparently).
Edit: For more on the data warehouse appliance market overall, please see this December, 2007 post on data warehouse appliance fact and fiction.