I last wrote about Exasol in 2008. After talking with the team Friday, I’m fixing that now. The general theme was as you’d expect: Since last we talked, Exasol has added some new management, put some effort into sales and marketing, got some customers, kept enhancing the product and so on.
Top-level points included:
- Exasol’s technical philosophy is substantially the same as before, albeit not with as extreme a focus on fitting everything in RAM.
- Exasol believes its flagship DBMS EXASolution has great performance on a load-and-go basis.
- Exasol has 25 EXASolution customers, all in Germany.*
- 5 of those are “cloud” customers, at hosting providers engaged by Exasol.
- EXASolution database sizes now range from the low 100s of gigabytes up to 30 terabytes.
- Pretty much the whole company is in Nuremberg.
*That excludes some money from Hitachi. Exasol’s Hitachi partnership is still in limbo, an apparent casualty of the world economic crisis.
On the technical side:
- As noted in my 2008 post, EXASolution is a columnar, no-head-node MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) DBMS.
- The main way EXASolution compresses data is via dictionary/tokenization. 5:1 is a typical compression ratio before mirroring and so on, out of a 2-10:1 range.
- EXASolution writes data to blocks in memory that are smaller than what is otherwise its preferred size (1/2 to 5 megabytes). These are sent to disk, where merge eventually happens. Exasol insists that write performance has always been fully satisfactory to customers to date.
- EXASolution doesn’t have much in the way of performance tuning knobs. Exasol says they aren’t needed, and says that one really can start an EXASolution POC (Proof of Concept) in a day or so.
- EXASolution doesn’t have much in the way of workload management capabilities, except what’s automagic (e.g., short query bias). However, it does collect statistics you can query via your favorite BI tool.
- EXASolution doesn’t have much in the way of analytic platform capabilities, although there is some Lua-based scripting. However, there’s something NDA in the analytic platform area Coming Soon.*
In general, the whole thing sounds somewhat like ParAccel, at least at a high level.
*Exasol is not and never has been our client, but we can keep secrets for them even so.
Naturally, Exasol believes EXASolution has fine concurrency, with at least one customer routinely running 2000 concurrent users, 200 concurrent sessions (via connection pooling), and 5-10 concurrent queries. Another customer has 3500 Cognos users. 1-200 concurrent queries appears to be the record peak load. Anyhow, Exasol says that plans to offer real workload management could be accelerated if a need were discovered.
Exasol says it almost never loses POCs, but admits that it competes fairly rarely against Vertica and ParAccel, no doubt for reasons of geography. Exasol boasts one visible Sybase IQ replacement (Sony Music).
While Exasol’s sales to date have been in Germany, there are plans to change that soon. At least one sales cycle is well underway in Eastern Europe. Offices in other Germanic countries are planned. Existing customers are planning to deploy additional copies outside Germany. Discussions are underway regarding other geographies, e.g. English-speaking ones.