April 14, 2009

There always seems to be a fire drill around MapReduce news

Last August I flew out to see my new clients at Greenplum. They told me they planned to roll out MapReduce in a few weeks, and asked for my help in publicizing it. From their offices I went to dinner with non-clients Aster Data, who told me they’d gotten wind of a Greenplum MapReduce announcement and planned to come out ahead of it. A couple of hours later, Aster signed up as a client. In something of a pickle — but not one of my own making — I knocked heads, and persuaded both vendors to announce MapReduce at the same time, namely the following Monday. Lots of publicity ensued for both vendors, and everybody was reasonably satisfied.

Last week I went back to California, visiting — among others — Greenplum, Aster, and eBay. Greenplum turns out to have a somewhat more skeptical view of MapReduce than they held previously. Aster Data continues to be somewhat more bullish, a difference I attribute in part to a focus on slightly different customer segments. (For the record, I probably put more weight on that reason than Aster itself does.) eBay seems even more negative on MapReduce, if that is possible, than it previously was. Also, I gathered I should talk with Hadoop-centric start-up Cloudera, and arranged to do so for this Tuesday, after which I planned to write a MapReduce update.

This afternoon (Monday) I was at Vertica, with Mike Stonebraker part of the meeting. He mentioned that he and David DeWitt had a new SIGMOD paper that compared MapReduce unfavorably to parallel SQL DBMS, both Vertica and a row store “DBMS-X”. Mike offered to get me a copy next week, and I agreed to hold off on my MapReduce update until then.

At 6:30 this evening, Eric Lai of Computerworld emailed me with a draft of the paper he’d gotten from DeWitt, with a request for comment. He was submitting the story at 8 pm. I sent email back to Vertica saying “What the hell??????” (after editing my original draft of the third word in that) and set to work. Later in the evening, coauthor Andy Pavlo posted a web page with the benchmark particulars, and eventually posted a link to the paper to. And I rushed out several related blog posts.

Frankly, my views on MapReduce are more balanced than today’s weary negativity would seem to imply.  But I didn’t have time to wait and lead off with an overview post reflecting that balance.  Stay tuned.

There. I’ve vented. I feel better. 🙂

And by the way, I’m not angry at anybody. Really. What amazes me is how SNAFUed things manage to get without anybody doing anything particularly wrong.


One Response to “There always seems to be a fire drill around MapReduce news”

  1. Stonebraker, DeWitt, et al. compare MapReduce to DBMS | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on November 29th, 2012 1:36 am

    […] than I expected based on the authorship, or on how Mike Stonebraker framed it to me when he told me about it Monday afternoon. That said, it is absolutely in line with the DeWitt/Stonebraker meme “MapReduce isn’t […]

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