In 1981, Gerry Chichester and Vaughan Merlyn did a user-survey-based report about transaction-oriented fourth-generation languages, the leading application development technology of their day. The report included top-ten lists of important features during the buying cycle and after implementation. The items on each list were very similar — but the order of the items was completely different. And so the report highlighted what I regard as an eternal truth of the enterprise software industry:
What users value in the product-buying process is quite different from what they value once a product is (being) put into use.
Here are some thoughts about how that comes into play today.
Wants outrunning needs
1. For decades, BI tools have been sold in large part via demos of snazzy features the CEO would like to have on his desk. First it was pretty colors; then it was maps; now sometimes it’s “real-time” changing displays. Other BI features, however, are likely to be more important in practice.
2. In general, the need for “real-time” BI data freshness is often exaggerated. If you’re a human being doing a job that’s also often automated at high speed — for example network monitoring or stock trading — there’s a good chance you need fully human real-time BI. Otherwise, how much does a 5-15 minute delay hurt? Even if you’re monitoring website sell-through — are your business volumes really high enough that 5 minutes matters much? eBay answered “yes” to that question many years ago, but few of us work for businesses anywhere near eBay’s scale.
Even so, the want for speed keeps growing stronger.
3. Similarly, some desires for elastic scale-out are excessive. Your website selling koi pond accessories should always run well on a single server. If you diversify your business to the point that that’s not true, you’ll probably rewrite your app by then as well.
4. Some developers want to play with cool new tools. That doesn’t mean those tools are the best choice for the job. In particular, boring old SQL has merits — such as joins! — that shiny NoSQL hasn’t yet replicated.
5. Some developers, on the other hand, want to keep using their old tools, on which they are their employers’ greatest experts. That doesn’t mean those tools are the best choice for the job either.
6. More generally, some enterprises insist on brand labels that add little value but lots of expense. Yes, there are many benefits to vendor consolidation, and you may avoid many headaches if you stick with not-so-cutting-edge technology. But “enterprise-grade” hardware failure rates may not differ enough from “consumer-grade” ones to be worth paying for.
|Categories: Benchmarks and POCs, Business intelligence, Cloud computing, Clustering, Data models and architecture, Data warehousing, NoSQL, Software as a Service (SaaS), Vertica Systems||3 Comments|
Some subjects just keep coming up. And so I keep saying things like:
Most generalizations about “Big Data” are false. “Big Data” is a horrific catch-all term, with many different meanings.
Most generalizations about Hadoop are false. Reasons include:
- Hadoop is a collection of disparate things, most particularly data storage and application execution systems.
- The transition from Hadoop 1 to Hadoop 2 will be drastic.
- For key aspects of Hadoop — especially file format and execution engine — there are or will be widely varied options.
Hadoop won’t soon replace relational data warehouses, if indeed it ever does. SQL-on-Hadoop is still very immature. And you can’t replace data warehouses unless you have the power of SQL.
Note: SQL isn’t the only way to provide “the power of SQL”, but alternative approaches are just as immature.
Most generalizations about NoSQL are false. Different NoSQL products are … different. It’s not even accurate to say that all NoSQL systems lack SQL interfaces. (For example, SQL-on-Hadoop often includes SQL-on-HBase.)
A few days ago I posted Daniel Abadi’s thoughts in a discussion of Hadapt, Microsoft PDW (Parallel Data Warehouse)/PolyBase, Pivotal/Greenplum Hawq, and other SQL-Hadoop combinations. This is Dave DeWitt’s response. Emphasis mine.
|Categories: Benchmarks and POCs, Cloudera, Clustering, Data warehousing, Greenplum, Hadapt, Hadoop, MapReduce, Microsoft and SQL*Server, PostgreSQL, SQL/Hadoop integration||6 Comments|
Hmm. I probably should have broken this out as three posts rather than one after all. Sorry about that.
Discussions of DBMS performance are always odd, for starters because:
- Workloads and use cases vary greatly.
- In particular, benchmarks such as the YCSB or TPC-H aren’t very helpful.
- It’s common for databases or at least working sets to be entirely in RAM — but it’s not always required.
- Consistency and durability models vary. What’s more, in some systems — e.g. MongoDB — there’s considerable flexibility as to which model you use.
- In particular, there’s an increasingly common choice in which data is written synchronously to RAM on 2 or more servers, then asynchronously to disk on each of them. Performance in these cases can be quite different from when all writes need to be committed to disk. Of course, you need sufficient disk I/O to keep up, so SSDs (Solid-State Drives) can come in handy.
- Many workloads are inherently single node (replication aside). Others are not.
MongoDB and 10gen
I caught up with Ron Avnur at 10gen. Technical highlights included: Read more
Two different vendors recently tried to inflict benchmarks on me. Both were YCSBs, so I decided to look up what the YCSB (Yahoo! Cloud Serving Benchmark) actually is. It turns out that the YCSB:
- Was developed by — you guessed it! — Yahoo.
- Is meant to simulate workloads that fetch web pages, including the writing portions of those workloads.
- Was developed with NoSQL data managers in mind.
- Bakes in one kind of sensitivity analysis — latency vs. throughput.
- Is implemented in extensible open source code.
That actually sounds pretty good, especially the extensibility part;* it’s likely that the YCSB can be useful in a variety of product selection scenarios. Still, as recent examples show, benchmark marketing is an annoying blight upon the database industry.
*With extensibility you can test your own workloads and do your own sensitivity analyses.
This is part of a four-post series, covering:
- Annoying Hadoop marketing themes that should be ignored.
- Hadoop versions and distributions, and their readiness or lack thereof for production.
- In general, how “enterprise-ready” is Hadoop?
- HBase 0.92 (this post)
As part of my recent round of Hadoop research, I talked with Cloudera’s Todd Lipcon. Naturally, one of the subjects was HBase, and specifically HBase 0.92. I gather that the major themes to HBase 0.92 are:
- Performance, scalability, and so on.
- “Coprocessors”, which are like triggers or stored procedures.
- Security, as the first major application of co-processors.
HBase coprocessors are Java code that links straight into HBase. As with other DBMS extensions of the “links straight into the DBMS code” kind,* HBase coprocessors seem best suited for very sophisticated users and third parties.** Evidently, coprocessors have already been used to make HBase security more granular — role-based, per-column-family/per-table, etc. Further, Todd thinks coprocessors could serve as a good basis for future HBase enhancements in areas such as aggregation or secondary indexing. Read more
|Categories: Benchmarks and POCs, Cloudera, Hadoop, HBase, MapReduce, NoSQL, Open source, Storage, Theory and architecture||2 Comments|
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.
|Categories: Benchmarks and POCs, Columnar database management, Data warehousing, Database compression, Exasol, Market share and customer counts, Pricing, Software as a Service (SaaS), Specific users, Sybase, Workload management||1 Comment|
Analytic data management technology has blossomed, leading to many questions along the lines of “So which products should I use for which category of problem?” The old EDW/data mart dichotomy is hopelessly outdated for that purpose, and adding a third category for “big data” is little help.
Let’s try eight categories instead. While no categorization is ever perfect, these each have at least some degree of technical homogeneity. Figuring out which types of analytic database you have or need — and in most cases you’ll need several — is a great early step in your analytic technology planning. Read more
I’ve blogged separately that:
- Vertica has a bunch of customers, including seven with 1 or more petabytes of data each.
- Vertica has progressed down the analytic platform path, with Monday’s release of Vertica 5.0.
And of course you know:
- Vertica (the product) is columnar, MPP, and fast.*
- Vertica (the company) was recently acquired by HP.**
|Categories: Benchmarks and POCs, Columnar database management, ParAccel, Parallelization, Vertica Systems||3 Comments|
Edit: Comments on the February, 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems — and on the companies reviewed in it — are now up.
The Gartner 2010 Data Warehouse Database Management Systems Magic Quadrant is out. I shall now comment, just as I did to varying degrees on the 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Gartner Data Warehouse Database Management System Magic Quadrants.
Note: Links to Gartner Magic Quadrants tend to be unstable. Please alert me if any problems arise; I’ll edit accordingly.
In my comments on the 2008 Gartner Data Warehouse Database Management Systems Magic Quadrant, I observed that Gartner’s “completeness of vision” scores were generally pretty reasonable, but their “ability to execute” rankings were somewhat bizarre; the same remains true this year. For example, Gartner ranks Ingres higher by that metric than Vertica, Aster Data, ParAccel, or Infobright. Yet each of those companies is growing nicely and delivering products that meet serious cutting-edge analytic DBMS needs, neither of which has been true of Ingres since about 1987. Read more