November 12, 2011

Clarifying SAND’s customer metrics, positioning and technical story

Talking with my clients at SAND can be confusing. That said:

A few months ago, I wrote:

SAND Technology reported >600 total customers, including >100 direct.

Upon talking with the company, I need to revise that figure downward, from > 600 to 15.

One embarrassing point: SAND is a client, and I view it as part of my job to save clients from that kind of inadvertent misstatement.

It turns out that SAND has a very impressive customer — Dunnhumby, a data mart outsourcer with 200 terabytes of data in SAND, 30 or so incoming data streams, 400 or so nodes … and 600 or so end customers, all of which SAND was counting as OEM end customers for its DBMS. But I, other industry observers, and other vendors generally don’t count that way.

Besides Dunnhumby, SAND has 14 other customers on maintenance, with < 1 terabyte of data each. Until recently, SAND had a couple dozen more customers than that, but it sold its SAP-oriented archiving/near-line storage product line to Informatica.

I still don’t know where the “> 100 direct” part came from.

After the sale of its other product line, SAND is squarely in the market for analytic DBMS. SAND’s sales efforts seem to be focused on investigative analytics, although some of its existing users seem to be more focused on operational analytics. Most specifically, SAND is trying to focus on “people data” — customer loyalty, health care, etc . — rather than purely machine-generated data, with the paradigmatic target application being personalized marketing.

SAND technical highlights include:

SAND’s update story is straightforward — when data comes in, all the columns and bitmaps are updated as needed. Still, since SAND is columnar, you wouldn’t expect true updates in place, and you’d be right. Rather, there’s a story with MVCC (MultiVersion Concurrency Control) and garbage collection, lock-free. The MVCC is also exploited for a kind of time travel, and further for some kind of virtual data mart capability.

SAND’s parallelization story is a bit complicated.

SAND is proud of its PMML (Predictive Modeling Markup Language) scoring capabilities, but otherwise hasn’t shipped much in the way of analytic platform capabilities. That said, work is underway on a user-defined table function capability that can also query external tables, fire off MapReduce jobs, and so on, under the code name UQL.


One Response to “Clarifying SAND’s customer metrics, positioning and technical story”

  1. Comments on the analytic DBMS industry and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for same : DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on February 9th, 2012 4:19 am

    […] Gartner completely missed the errors in SAND’s reported customer counts. […]

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