January 16, 2013

NuoDB marketing mishegas

I must start by apologizing for giving a quote in a press release whose contents I deplore. Unlike occasions on which I’ve posted about inaccurate quotes, in this case the fault is mine. The quote is quite accurate. And NuoDB didn’t mislead me about the release’s contents; I just neglected to ask.

NuoDB evidently subscribes to the marketing fallacy:

But to my taste, NuoDB’s worst travesty is not the deafening drumroll before launch (I asked off their mailing list months before), nor the claim that NuoDB’s launch would be a “big day” for the database industry (annoying but ordinary hype), nor the emergent flock of birds foofarah, nor even NuoDB’s overwrought benchmark marketing (distressingly many vendors do that).

Rather, I think NuoDB’s greatest marketing offense to date is its Codd-imitating “12 rules” for cloud database management. Up to a point, they’re everything you’d expect in vendor marketing:

But pretending NuoDB’s “12 new rules” are anything like Codd’s original rules is going several steps too far.

Let me start with a quick history reminder.

There are two big differences between Codd’s original rules and later imitations (including his own mentioned above). First, Codd was speaking from very clear authority, as the inventor of one of the seminal concepts in all of computer science. Second, the purpose of Codd’s rules was limited; in essence, he was claiming they were necessary to meet his original 1970 goal:

Future users of large data banks must be protected from having to know how the data is organized in the machine (the internal representation).

That’s much different from imitations such as NuoDB’s, which basically boil down to a grab-bag of (biased) suggestions as to what should be on your product selection checklist.

Anyhow, my first take on NuoDB’s “12” rules is:

If one tries to take a charitable view, certain of NuoDB’s “rules” could be construed as showing how to get physical/topology independence, in line w/ Codd’s efforts to get application-data-model independence — #1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and perhaps 10. But even if they were modified to be both accurate and coherent, it would turn out that extreme physical/topology independence is even less important than the purist application independence advocated by Ted Codd, Chris Date, and others. You develop systems to run in certain ways. Some kinds of future evolution are possible or indeed likely over the system’s lifetime; others are too remote to worry about. Investing in “perfect” insurance is rarely a wise choice. And while it’s likely that you’ll put numerous new applications over your existing database, it’s less likely that your hardware/network infrastructure will change in similarly drastic ways.


9 Responses to “NuoDB marketing mishegas”

  1. Darryl Ramm on January 17th, 2013 3:11 am

    I’m reading this writing gem http://www.dbta.com/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=86896 and wondering who writes this junk, and oh yes, its from NuoDB marketing. Check off that “product launch 101” check box for saturation placed media articles.

    Not sure I’d conflate “explode into action” and “flock of birds taking off”.

  2. YCSB benchmark notes | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on January 17th, 2013 7:43 pm

    […] NuoDB generated some mediocre YCSB results, then made a big fuss because NuoDB got those numbers while operating through SQL. Blech. I guess they proved that NuoDB’s SQL parsing/execution layer is better than the worst thing one can imagine an undergraduate writing as a homework project, but otherwise little substance was demonstrated. […]

  3. Paul Johnson on January 21st, 2013 4:49 am

    Let’s not forget that marketing hype is just that…hype.

    The ‘challenge’ is always the same – find out what they don’t talk about and why. What DB companies can’t do is of far more interest, surely?

    On a more fundamental level, do all of these DB start-ups really want us to accept that the DB world is so broken that they can find a way to survive and grow beyond a few early friends and family deals? Unlikely.

  4. Curt Monash on January 26th, 2013 2:40 am

    To answer your last question, Paul, yes — and I agree with them.

    Now, we can speculate about how MANY will survive and grow, or how early and how completely the growers and survivors are acquired by big companies. Note that DATAllegro and Netezza were both acquired by top-three DBMS vendors, and Aster was acquired by a top vendor in its space, while Sybase, Greenplum, and Vertica were acquired by big tech companies as well.

  5. M-A-O-L » Cloud databases, or database on the cloud? on January 29th, 2013 11:21 am

    […] has a less favorable view on the 12 rules, or maybe just marks his disagreement in stronger words… an interesting read anyway, as he […]

  6. Darryl Ramm on August 18th, 2013 8:21 pm
  7. IDG and me | Software Memories on March 24th, 2014 6:45 am

    […] were claiming with some success to be “relational”. But when Computerworld reported Ted Codd’s “rules” for RDBMS, that was that — RDBMS were defined to be what Codd and Computerworld said they were, and the […]

  8. 20th Century DBMS success and failure | Software Memories on July 11th, 2014 7:40 am

    […] Ted Codd’s 12 rules, not that anybody — even IBM — actually followed them all. […]

  9. Third-party quotes in press releases | Strategic Messaging on September 20th, 2015 5:07 am

    […] even a correct quote can lead to a […]

Leave a Reply

Feed: DBMS (database management system), DW (data warehousing), BI (business intelligence), and analytics technology Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:


Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.