November 10, 2013

RDBMS and their bundle-mates

Relational DBMS used to be fairly straightforward product suites, which boiled down to:

Now, however, most RDBMS are sold as part of something bigger.

This phenomenon is, I think, much more driven by vendors than users. Most of the examples I listed work or could work perfectly well on their own.* But relational database management systems are seen as “strategic” products, which means in particular:

And strategic products, high price tags, and thick product stacks commonly go together.

*Netezza is an exception. But Exadata is not; while Oracle data warehousing was in a bad technical place before Exadata, Exadata software is what cleaned the problem up.

Also relevant is that I took those examples from relatively mature RDBMS market segments — high-end OLTP/general purpose (OnLine Transaction processing), mid-range OLTP/general-purpose, and analytic. Products in those sectors have had enough time to be built out. They also tend to have fairly close competitors, as the most important product features (e.g. columnar storage in analytic RDBMS, or online backup across the board) have been imitated numerous times each.

NewSQL, by way of contrast, is just as thin-stack as NoSQL is. Products in those sectors are immature; vendors are completing them first before wedding them to other technology layers. They’re also strongly differentiated; if you tell me what topology you need and which style(s) of API or DML (Data Manipulation Language) you prefer, the list of product candidates I give you may be short indeed.

HBase is the obvious exception to my “NoSQL products stand alone” generalization, but its market position is a matter of debate.

I have mixed feelings about this trend. For starters, I’m grudgingly becoming more sympathetic to DBMS/hardware bundles, notwithstanding their role as a way to gouge more money from customers than the hardware is actually worth. Why? Because of my opinion that there’s a general move toward appliances, clusters and clouds. In particular:

When it comes to RDBMS/business intelligence bundles, my thoughts start:

And so I’m skeptical about RDBMS/BI integration, but willing to be persuaded otherwise.

The integration of advanced analytics with RDBMS leaves me perplexed. Gains in performance, scalability and/or development ease would seem, in many cases, too great to pass up. (E.g.. the Teradata Aster 6 story, analytic libraries and all.) And indeed most analytic platform vendors report some level of adoption. But the whole thing is moving more slowly than I expected. Meanwhile in the Hadoop world, a much lesser SQL capability — Hive — seems to be integrated into other analytic processing with enthusiasm. Perhaps the problem is that enterprises have to figure out which analytic techniques to use in the first place, before they worry too much about making them efficient.

And finally, when it comes to bundling of packaged applications with RDBMS — that depends on the class of application.

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One Response to “RDBMS and their bundle-mates”

  1. Dan Murray on November 11th, 2013 8:08 am

    Good post. My thought on bundling analytic applications in vendor-specific stacks is….it offers limited value.

    What makes sense to me is vendor-independent analytic tools that bridge all the stacks. I rarely see one vendor in any major entity. The flow of data from the web isn’t decreasing. The volume, variety, and velocity phenomena isn’t dissipating.

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