November 8, 2013

Comments on the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems

The 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems is out. “Operational” seems to be Gartner’s term for what I call short-request, in each case the point being that OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) is a dubious term when systems omit strict consistency, and when even strictly consistent systems may lack full transactional semantics. As is usually the case with Gartner Magic Quadrants:


Finally, since I’ve struggled with the definition of “DBMS”, I’ll finish by quoting with approval the start of Gartner’s:

We define a DBMS as a complete software system used to define, create, manage, update and query a database.

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16 Responses to “Comments on the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems”

  1. Vlad Rodionov on November 8th, 2013 2:32 pm

    >HBase is discussed as if the Hadoop vendors were >still pushing it hard, or if it were showing up in >a lot of enterprise evaluations.

    What was that? HBase is thriving and approaching first GA release.

  2. Curt Monash on November 8th, 2013 2:43 pm

    I’m sure HBase is up in absolute terms. But I talk with a lot of industry players, and the view is pretty unanimous that HBase’s relative importance isn’t what it once was, or what I once thought it could become.

    The easiest part of that to disclose is this: When I ask NoSQL or (to the extent relevant) NewSQL companies about their competitors, HBase ranks lower than it used to.

    (Well, actually, I don’t know Cloudera’s view — because Cloudera, the chief corporate sponsor for HBase, has barely mentioned it to me at all for quite a long time.)

  3. Ced on November 8th, 2013 7:12 pm

    I’m not sure about database vendors, but from as the founder of a company that has been heavily using HBase for the past 4 years, it remains a central component of the whole Hadoop stack. The latest focuses of Cloudera (Search, Impala), makes it even more unavoidable to us. Recent improvements (secondary index, etc.) makes it a no-brainer against competitors. And I can’t begin to imagine the power that HOYA will deliver.

  4. Vlad Rodionov on November 9th, 2013 12:10 am

    Curt, in NoSQL space, I think, there is only one competitor to HBase in a short term – Cassandra. In a long term – none. I have never heard about 400-1000 node clusters of MongoDB, Oracle, Aerospike, Actian, Microsoft etc, for example. Have you? Every new technology needs time to mature and HBase is no exclusion to this rule. The reason, why HBase does not have enough visibility is there is no dedicated company behind it yet (similar to MongoDB or DataStax). I do not count Cloudera and Hortonworks because HBase for them is just one product from a huge Hadoop stack. I am sure that in the next year we will see at least two new companies, promoting HBase and related services as a core product (-spoiler :)).

  5. Curt Monash on November 9th, 2013 3:21 am


    If I had to guess which NoSQL data store ran the largest clusters of all, my bet would be on Accumulo. 🙂 And while I’d agree with the conjecture that most NoSQL systems currently top out in the low hundreds of nodes, I’m not sure how many opportunities there are in the “too big for MongoDB” market. Once a product scales to 100s of nodes, scaling it yet further can be presumed to be mainly a function of straightforward product enhancement … and of the possibly small demand for and return on those scaling efforts. Perhaps the biggest scaling issue for NoSQL is exactly scaling, but rather getting satisfactory performance without keeping the whole working set in RAM.

    On the plus side for agreeing with your comment, I do think a dedicated HBase company could change HBase’s prospects. 🙂

  6. Mark Callaghan on November 11th, 2013 2:32 pm

    I thought this was the problem for MongoDB, not all of NoSQL, given the reader-writer lock that is per process or per collection. But with their recent funding perhaps they will fix that or take advantage of TokuMX.

    > Perhaps the biggest scaling issue for NoSQL is
    > exactly scaling, but rather getting satisfactory
    > performance without keeping the whole working
    > set in RAM

  7. Curt Monash on November 11th, 2013 4:22 pm


    I seem to have conversations like:

    “Wait, it sounds as if the working set is in RAM.”
    “That’s right. It is.”
    “Then why are you so proud of your performance?”

    with a lot of vendors about a lot of specific implementations.

  8. Mark Callaghan on November 12th, 2013 12:34 am

    This was a very interesting post.

    Maybe I haven’t done my research, but does Accumulo have features that required an HBase clone? Could these features have been added to HBase at much lower cost? How much money did the NSA spend on this?

    With respect to claims that Accumulo has huge deployments, I guess we will have to take your word for it as the early adopters (NSA) might not tell us how they use it.

  9. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2013 5:15 am

    Actually, Derrick Harris got the scoop on the Accumulo deployments back in June.

    Accumulo’s big special feature is cell-level security. I don’t have the details memorized, but if you assume that Cassandra and HBase are sort of like collections of key-value pairs, only the pairs are actually n-tuples for n ~= 5 (column, value, timestamp, and I forget what else), Accumulo increments n by 1 for a permissions label.

  10. Mark Callaghan on November 12th, 2013 10:07 am

    The sources for the story are the people who were paid to do the work at the NSA and are now trying to commercialize it elsewhere. I am not sure I trust their opinion. Of course they are going to tell us that they could not use Hbase and had to write Accumulo from scratch.

  11. Curt Monash on November 12th, 2013 1:16 pm


    I’m rarely going to assume that organizations’ perceptions of necessary security features match reality. But I’m pretty confident that the figures stated can be taken as true.

    Given how much I write about NSA stuff myself, and also given that Sqrrl are my clients, I’ll stop there.

  12. Vlad Rodionov on November 13th, 2013 9:33 pm

    On Accumulo cell-level security …
    The upcoming HBase 0.98 introduces cell level tags (the list of name-value pairs), which are more generic thing than ‘security labels’ and can be used for many other purposes (not only to check/ control user’s access).

  13. Darryl Ramm on November 15th, 2013 12:55 pm

    Nice writeup of one of my less favorite things (analyst quadrants). Amongst all the quadrant marketing silliness, I noticed that NuoDB issued a press release pointing out they have been added to the Magic Quadrant. Pretty weird to do given they are ranked pretty much bottom-left. The press release does not include a publicly visible link to the actual quadrant, which may be a good thing.

  14. Christine Lieu on November 15th, 2013 2:46 pm

    Of Course, I’m super biased here (work at Clustrix) but I agree that Gartner was surprisingly subdued in their endorsement of Clustrix, at least in the high level headline. The details of the report give shout-outs to Clustrix performance, simplicity, and ease of engagement.

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