Analysis of database management systems optimized for general-purpose or transactional use, but not the most demanding high-end transactional applications. Related subjects include:
Raj Nathan of Sybase has been calling around to chat quickly about the SAP/Sybase deal and related matters. Talking with Raj didn’t change any of my initial reactions to SAP’s acquisition of Sybase. I also didn’t bother Raj with too many hard questions, as he was clearly in call-and-reassure mode, reaching out to customers and influencers alike.
That said, Read more
The past few years have seen a spate of startups in the analytic DBMS business. Netezza, Vertica, Greenplum, Aster Data and others are all reasonably prosperous, alongside older specialty product vendors Teradata and Sybase (the Sybase IQ part). OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) and general purpose DBMS startups, however, have not yet done as well, with such success as there has been (MySQL, Intersystems Cache’, solidDB’s exit, etc.) generally accruing to products that originated in the 20th Century.
Nonetheless, OLTP/general-purpose data management startup activity has recently picked up, targeting what I see as some very real opportunities and needs. So as a jumping-off point for further writing, I thought it might be interesting to collect a few observations about the market in one place. These include:
- Big-brand OLTP/general-purpose DBMS have more “stickiness” than analytic DBMS.
- By number, most of an enterprise’s OLTP/general-purpose databases are low-volume and low-value.
- Most interesting new OLTP/general-purpose data management products are either MySQL-based or NoSQL.
- It’s not yet clear whether MySQL will prevail over MySQL forks, or vice-versa, or whether they will co-exist.
- The era of silicon-centric relational DBMS is coming.
- The emphasis on scale-out and reducing the cost of joins spans the NoSQL and SQL-based worlds.
- Users’ instance on “free” could be a major problem for OLTP DBMS innovation.
I shall explain. Read more
I talked with Robert Nagle of Intersystems last week, and it went better than at least one other Intersystems briefing I’ve had. Intersystems’ main product is Cache’, an object-oriented DBMS introduced in 1997 (before that Intersystems was focused on the fourth-generation programming language M, renamed from MUMPS). Unlike most other OODBMS, Cache’ is used for a lot of stuff one would think an RDBMS would be used for, across all sorts of industries. That said, there’s a distinct health-care focus to Intersystems, in that:
- MUMPS, the original Intersystems technology, was focused on health care.
- The reasons Intersystems went object-oriented have a lot to do with the structure of health-care records.
- Intersystems’ biggest and most visible ISVs are in the health-care area.
- Intersystems is actually beginning to sell an electronic health records system called TrakCare around the world (but not in the US, where it has lots of large competitive VARs).
Note: Intersystems Cache’ is sold mainly through VARs (Value-Added Resellers), aka ISVs/OEMs. I.e., it’s sold by people who write applications on top of it.
So far as I understand – and this is still pretty vague and apt to be partially erroneous – the Intersystems Cache’ technical story goes something like this: Read more
|Categories: Data models and architecture, Emulation, transparency, portability, Health care, Intersystems and Cache', Mid-range, Object, OLTP, Sybase, Theory and architecture||8 Comments|
When the Oracle/MySQL deal was first announced, I wrote:
I can probably come up with business practices that could make things very hard on Oracle/MySQL competitors … but I haven’t found a compelling antitrust trigger on my first pass over the subject.
Now that the European Commission is delaying the Oracle/Sun deal, explicitly because of Oracle/MySQL antitrust fears. That is, the European Commission wants to be reassured that an Oracle takeover of MySQL won’t unduly impinge upon the future availability of open source/low cost DBMS alternatives. This raises that natural question:
What could Oracle do to assure concerned parties that its ownership of MySQL won’t unduly hamper open-source-based DBMS competition?
I think that’s indeed the crucial question. The Oracle/Sun deal has enough momentum at this point that it both should and will be allowed to happen — perhaps with safeguards — rather than banned outright. If you have concerns about Oracle’s pending acquisition of MySQL, you should speak up and outline what kinds of regulatory safeguards would alleviate the problems you foresee.
More or less obvious possibilities include:
- Divest MySQL. This is obviously an extreme measure, but it surely would work.
- Provide some money and trademark rights to MySQL forkers. If MariaDB and Drizzle were put into strong competitive positions with MySQL today, it’s hard to argue how regulators could object to any future Oracle maneuverings Oracle might envision with the GPLed side of MySQL.
- Offer a standard, attractive, long-term deal to MySQL bundlers. The commercial/non-GPL version of MySQL is a requirement for appliance vendors (surely), OEM vendors (probably), and storage engine vendors (maybe — I disagree, but I’m evidently in the minority).
- Strengthen PostgreSQL. Realistically, that’s not going to be part of any Oracle/MySQL resolution, so I’ll leave it as a subject for another time.
Reported or rumored merger discussions between IBM and Sun are generating huge amounts of discussion today (some links below). Here are some quick thoughts around the subject of how the IBM/Sun deal — if it happens — might affect the database management system industry. Read more
|Categories: Actian and Ingres, Data warehousing, EnterpriseDB and Postgres Plus, Greenplum, IBM and DB2, Infobright, Kickfire, Kognitio, Microsoft and SQL*Server, Mid-range, MySQL, Open source, ParAccel, PostgreSQL, solidDB||10 Comments|
Apparently, IBM is rolling out an appliance for small businesses. MySQL is under the covers. The appliance won’t have a keyboard or monitor, so there won’t be a lot of database administration going on.
Before Solid and solidDB were acquired by IBM, one of the things Solid was proudest of was some embedded apps in which solidDB ran for years in boxes without keyboards or monitors.
I still think it’s a pity that IBM isn’t using solidDB as broadly as the technology deserves. Even so, this is a nice endorsement of MySQL for reliable zero-DBA mid-range use.
A small Microsoft SQL Server-based medical application vendor called NoteWorthy Medical Systems bought a small Intersystems Cache’-based medical application vendor called Mars Medical Systems. NoteWorthy then decided to rebuild its product line on Intersystems Cache’. A press release ensued.*
*In general, my criticisms of Intersystems’ stealth marketing are beginning to be relaxed. On the other hand, if you want to be technical, I still haven’t actually talked with the company for years …
I spoke briefly with Mark Conner, founder of Mars Medical and now EVP of NoteWorthy, about why he so loves Cache’. (I asked what he disliked about the product; his response was an emphatic “Nothing”.) It basically boils down to two reasons:
Mark thinks hierarchical data models are a great fit for medical applications. For example, the application’s UI (and local schema) look quite different depending on which particular complaints or diagnoses apply to particular patient visits.
Cache’ just runs and runs w/o DBA intervention. Mark cited a figure of two support engineers for Mars Medical, supporting over 1,000 medical (largely group) practices, almost none of which have DBAs.
The latter feature is crucial to small ISVs selling application software to even smaller users, and is a big part of why Progress and Intersystems have large share in that market. More generally, it’s the most important and common technical advantage that mid-range database management systems generally enjoy versus the market leaders. (The other big advantage, of course, is pricing.)
I had lunch today with CTO Bob Zurek of EnterpriseDB, who turns out to live in almost the same town I do (they technically separated in 1783, but share a high school today). DBMS-related highlights included:
- EnterpriseDB thinks PostgreSQL training and certification are a big deal for increasing PostgreSQL adoption.
- EnterpriseDB’s business focus right now (at least, one of them) is moving developers from interest to download to deployment and payment — i.e., the standard funnel for open source and open-source-inspired products.
- EnterpriseDB finds it important to be a good PostgreSQL community citizen. This makes a lot of sense, as EnterpriseDB doesn’t control the core PostgreSQL engine, even if it does employ some of the core PostgreSQL developers.
- But “open source” is not the same as “free”.
- I got the impression that the GridSQL technology EnterpriseDB acquired is being used to go after general read-mostly, horizontally-scaling applications (i.e., MySQL’s sweet spot). I did not get the impression, by way of contrast, that EnterpriseDB is out to play catch-up — e.g., with GreenPlum — in MPP data warehousing.
- Bob pointed out that something like “Vacuum” to clean up the database periodically is needed in a MVCC (MultiVersion Concurrency Control) engine. He thinks PostgreSQL’s autovacuum is good but not ideal.
- Bob draws this as yet another two-dimensional positioning graph, but in essence he thinks PostgreSQL and Postgres Plus are well-suited for a large space that’s above MySQL and below Oracle. I don’t think he really contradicted Kee Kwan’s opinion that there are good times to use PostgreSQL and good times to use MySQL.
- I was wrong when I previously said EnterpriseDB now offers MySQL portability. It just offers MySQL migration.
- The Elastra/EnterpriseDB cloud offering isn’t generally available yet.
- Stay tuned for developments in replication/high availability.
EnterpriseDB put out a white paper arguing for the superiority of PostgreSQL over MySQL, even without EnterpriseDB’s own Postgres Plus extensions. Highlights of EnterpriseDB’s opinion include:
- EnterpriseDB asserts that MyISAM is the only MySQL storage engine with decent performance.
- EnterpriseDB then bashes MyISAM for all sorts of well-deserved reasons, especially ACID-noncompliance.
- EnterpriseDB asserts that row-level triggers, lacking in MySQL but present in PostgreSQL, are the most important kind of trigger.
- EnterpriseDB claims PostgreSQL is superior in procedural language support to MySQL.
- EnterpriseDB claims PostgreSQL is superior in authentication support to MySQL.
In a nutshell, ScaleDB’s proposition is:
Innovative approach to indexing relational DBMS, providing performance advantages.
Shared-everything scale-up that ScaleDB believes will leapfrog the MySQL engine competition already in Release 1. (In my opinion, this is the least plausible part of the ScaleDB story.)
State-of-the-art me-too facilities for locking, logging, replication/fail-over, etc., also already in Release 1.
Like many software companies with non-US roots, ScaleDB seems to have started with a single custom project, using a Patricia trie indexing system. Then they decided Patricia tries might be really useful for relational OLTP as well. The ScaleDB team now features four developers, plus half-time or so “Chief Architect” involvement from Vern Watts. Watts seems to pretty much have been Mr. IMS for the past four decades, and thus surely knows a whole lot about pointer-based database management systems; presumably, he’s responsible for the generic DBMS design features that are being added to the innovative indexing scheme. On ScaleDB’s advisory board is PeopleSoft veteran Rick Berquist, about whom I’ve had fond thoughts ever since he talked me into focusing on consulting as the core of my business.*
*More precisely, Rick pretty much tricked me into doing a day of consulting for $15K, then revealed that’s what he’d done, expressing the thought that he’d very much gotten his money’s worth. But I digress …
ScaleDB has no customers to date, but hopes to be in beta by the end of this year. Angels and a small VC firm have provided bridge loans; otherwise, ScaleDB has no outside investment. ScaleDB’s business model thoughts include: Read more
|Categories: Data models and architecture, Mid-range, MySQL, OLTP, Open source, ScaleDB, Theory and architecture||5 Comments|