Data warehouse appliances

Analysis of data warehouse appliances – i.e., of hardware/software bundles optimized for fast query and analysis of large volumes of (usually) relational data. Related subjects include:

August 19, 2012

Data warehouse appliance — analytic glossary draft entry

This is a draft entry for the DBMS2 analytic glossary. Please comment with any ideas you have for its improvement!

Note: Words and phrases in italics will be linked to other entries when the glossary is complete.

A data warehouse appliance is a combination of hardware and software that includes an analytic DBMS (DataBase Management System). However, some observers incorrectly apply the term “data warehouse appliance” to any analytic DBMS.

The paradigmatic vendors of data warehouse appliances are:

Further, vendors of analytic DBMS commonly offer — directly or through partnerships — optional data warehouse appliance configurations; examples include:

Oracle Exadata is sometimes regarded as a data warehouse appliance as well, despite not being solely focused on analytic use cases.

Data warehouse appliances inherit marketing claims from the category of analytic DBMS, such as: Read more

August 7, 2012

Notes on some basic database terminology

In a call Monday with a prominent company, I was told:

That, to put it mildly, is not accurate. So I shall try, yet again, to set the record straight.

In an industry where people often call a DBMS just a “database” — so that a database is something that manages a database! — one may wonder why I bother. Anyhow …

1. The products commonly known as Oracle, Exadata, DB2, Sybase, SQL Server, Teradata, Sybase IQ, Netezza, Vertica, Greenplum, Aster, Infobright, SAND, ParAccel, Exasol, Kognitio et al. all either are or incorporate relational database management systems, aka RDBMS or relational DBMS.

2. In principle, there can be difficulties in judging whether or not a DBMS is “relational”. In practice, those difficulties don’t arise — yet. Every significant DBMS still falls into one of two categories:

*I expect the distinction to get more confusing soon, at which point I’ll adopt terms more precise than “relational things” and “relational stuff”.

3. There are two chief kinds of relational DBMS: Read more

July 25, 2012

Thoughts on the next releases of Oracle and Exadata

A reporter asked me to speculate about the next releases of Oracle and Exadata. He and I agreed:

My answers mixed together thoughts on what Oracle should and will emphasize (which aren’t the same thing but hopefully bear some relationship to each other ;) ). They were (lightly edited):

July 25, 2012

The eternal bogosity of performance marketing

Chris Kanaracus uncovered a case of Oracle actually pulling an ad after having been found “guilty” of false advertising. The essence seems to be that Oracle claimed 20X hardware performance vs. IBM, based on a comparison done against 6 year old hardware running an earlier version of the Oracle DBMS. My quotes in the article were:

Another example of Oracle exaggeration was around the Exadata replacement of Teradata at Softbank. But the bogosity flows both ways. Netezza used to make a flat claim of 50X better performance than Oracle, while Vertica’s standard press release boilerplate long boasted

50x-1000x faster performance at 30% the cost of traditional solutions

Of course, reality is a lot more complicated. Even if you assume apples-to-apples comparisons in terms of hardware and software versions, performance comparisons can vary greatly depending upon queries, databases, or use cases. For example:

And so, vendor marketing claims about across-the-board performance should be viewed with the utmost of suspicion.

Related links

March 9, 2012

Hardware and components — lessons from Teradata

I love talking with Carson Schmidt, chief of Teradata’s hardware engineering (among other things), even if I don’t always understand the details of what he’s talking about. It had been way too long since our last chat, so I requested another one. We were joined by Keith Muller, who I presume is pictured here. Takeaways included:

Read more

February 26, 2012

SAP HANA today

SAP HANA has gotten much attention, mainly for its potential. I finally got briefed on HANA a few weeks ago. While we didn’t have time for all that much detail, it still might be interesting to talk about where SAP HANA stands today.

The HANA section of SAP’s website is a confusing and sometimes inaccurate mess. But an IBM whitepaper on SAP HANA gives some helpful background.

SAP HANA is positioned as an “appliance”. So far as I can tell, that really means it’s a software product for which there are a variety of emphatically-recommended hardware configurations — Intel-only, from what right now are eight usual-suspect hardware partners. Anyhow, the core of SAP HANA is an in-memory DBMS. Particulars include:

SAP says that the row-store part is based both on P*Time, an acquisition from Korea some time ago, and also on SAP’s own MaxDB. The IBM white paper mentions only the MaxDB aspect. (Edit: Actually, see the comment thread below.) Based on a variety of clues, I conjecture that this was an aspect of SAP HANA development that did not go entirely smoothly.

Other SAP HANA components include:  Read more

February 8, 2012

Comments on the analytic DBMS industry and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for same

This year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems is out.* I shall now comment, just as I did on the 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Gartner Data Warehouse Database Management System Magic Quadrants, to varying extents. To frame the discussion, let me start by saying:

*As of February, 2012 — and surely for many months thereafter — Teradata is graciously paying for a link to the report.

Specific company comments, roughly in line with Gartner’s rough single-dimensional rank ordering, include: Read more

January 10, 2012

A couple of links explaining Cloudera Manager

Predictably, I wasn’t pre-briefed on the details of Oracle’s Big Data Appliance announcement today, and an inquiry to partner Cloudera doesn’t happen to have been immediately answered.* But anyhow, it’s clear from coverage by Larry Dignan and Derrick Harris that Oracle’s Big Data Appliance includes:

In other words, it’s a lot like getting Cloudera Enterprise,* plus some hardware, plus some other stuff.

*Edit: About 2 minutes after I posted this, I got email from Cloudera CEO Mike Olson. Yes, the Oracle Big Data Appliance bundles Cloudera Enterprise.

That raises an anyway recurring question: What exactly is Cloudera Manager? Read more

November 21, 2011

Some big-vendor execution questions, and why they matter

When I drafted a list of key analytics-sector issues in honor of look-ahead season, the first item was “execution of various big vendors’ ambitious initiatives”. By “execute” I mean mainly:

Vendors mentioned here are Oracle, SAP, HP, and IBM. Anybody smaller got left out due to the length of this post. Among the bigger omissions were:

Read more

November 21, 2011

Analytic trends in 2012: Q&A

As a new year approaches, it’s the season for lists, forecasts and general look-ahead. Press interviews of that nature have already begun. And so I’m working on a trilogy of related posts, all based on an inquiry about hot analytic trends for 2012.

This post is a moderately edited form of an actual interview. Two other posts cover analytic trends to watch (planned) and analytic vendor execution challenges to watch (already up).

Read more

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