Columnar database management

Analysis of products and issues in column-oriented database management systems. Related subjects include:

April 14, 2013

Introduction to Deep Information Sciences and DeepDB

I talked Friday with Deep Information Sciences, makers of DeepDB. Much like TokuDB — albeit with different technical strategies — DeepDB is a single-server DBMS in the form of a MySQL engine, whose technology is concentrated around writing indexes quickly. That said:

*For reasons that do not seem closely related to product reality, DeepDB is marketed as if it supports “unstructured” data today.

Other NewSQL DBMS seem “designed for big data and the cloud” to at least the same extent DeepDB is. However, if we’re interpreting “big data” to include multi-structured data support — well, only half or so of the NewSQL products and companies I know of share Deep’s interest in branching out. In particular:

Edit: MySQL has some sort of an optional NoSQL interface, and hence so presumably do MySQL-compatible TokuDB, GenieDB, Clustrix, and MemSQL.

Also, some of those products do not today have the transparent scale-out that Deep plans to offer in the future.

Read more

March 26, 2013

Platfora at the time of first GA

Well-resourced Silicon Valley start-ups typically announce their existence multiple times. Company formation, angel funding, Series A funding, Series B funding, company launch, product beta, and product general availability may not be 7 different “news events”, but they’re apt to be at least 3-4. Platfora, no exception to this rule, is hitting general availability today, and in connection with that I learned a bit more about what they are up to.

In simplest terms, Platfora offers exploratory business intelligence against Hadoop-based data. As per last weekend’s post about exploratory BI, a key requirement is speed; and so far as I can tell, any technological innovation Platfora offers relates to the need for speed. Specifically, I drilled into Platfora’s performance architecture on the query processing side (and associated data movement); Platfora also brags of rendering 100s of 1000s of “marks” quickly in HTML5 visualizations, but I haven’t a clue as to whether that’s much of an accomplishment in itself.

Platfora’s marketing suggests it obviates the need for a data warehouse at all; for most enterprises, of course, that is a great exaggeration. But another dubious aspect of Platfora marketing actually serves to understate the product’s merits — Platfora claims to have an “in-memory” product, when what’s really the case is that Platfora’s memory-centric technology uses both RAM and disk to manage larger data marts than could reasonably be fit into RAM alone. Expanding on what I wrote about Platfora when it de-stealthedRead more

March 18, 2013

DBMS development and other subjects

The cardinal rules of DBMS development

Rule 1: Developing a good DBMS requires 5-7 years and tens of millions of dollars.

That’s if things go extremely well.

Rule 2: You aren’t an exception to Rule 1. 

In particular:

DBMS with Hadoop underpinnings …

… aren’t exceptions to the cardinal rules of DBMS development. That applies to Impala (Cloudera), Stinger (Hortonworks), and Hadapt, among others. Fortunately, the relevant vendors seem to be well aware of this fact. Read more

February 21, 2013

One database to rule them all?

Perhaps the single toughest question in all database technology is: Which different purposes can a single data store serve well? — or to phrase it more technically — Which different usage patterns can a single data store support efficiently? Ted Codd was on multiple sides of that issue, first suggesting that relational DBMS could do everything and then averring they could not. Mike Stonebraker too has been on multiple sides, first introducing universal DBMS attempts with Postgres and Illustra/Informix, then more recently suggesting the world needs 9 or so kinds of database technology. As for me — well, I agreed with Mike both times. :)

Since this is MUCH too big a subject for a single blog post, what I’ll do in this one is simply race through some background material. To a first approximation, this whole discussion is mainly about data layouts — but only if we interpret that concept broadly enough to comprise:

To date, nobody has ever discovered a data layout that is efficient for all usage patterns. As a general rule, simpler data layouts are often faster to write, while fancier ones can boost query performance. Specific tradeoffs include, but hardly are limited to: Read more

February 5, 2013

Comments on Gartner’s 2012 Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems — evaluations

To my taste, the most glaring mis-rankings in the 2012/2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management are that it is too positive on Kognitio and too negative on Infobright. Secondarily, it is too negative on HP Vertica, and too positive on ParAccel and Actian/VectorWise. So let’s consider those vendors first.

Gartner seems confused about Kognitio’s products and history alike.

Gartner is correct, however, to note that Kognitio doesn’t sell much stuff overall.

* non-existent

In the cases of HP Vertica, Infobright, ParAccel, and Actian/VectorWise, the 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management’s facts are fairly accurate, but I dispute Gartner’s evaluation. When it comes to Vertica: Read more

December 2, 2012

Are column stores really better at compression?

A consensus has evolved that:

Still somewhat controversial is the claim that:

A strong plausibility argument for the latter point is that new in-memory analytic data stores tend to be columnar — think HANA or Platfora; compression is commonly cited as a big reason for the choice. (Another reason is that I/O bandwidth matters even when the I/O is from RAM, and there are further reasons yet.)

One group that made the in-memory columnar choice is the Spark/Shark guys at UC Berkeley’s AMP Lab. So when I talked with them Thursday (more on that another time, but it sounds like cool stuff), I took some time to ask why columnar stores are better at compression. In essence, they gave two reasons — simplicity, and speed of decompression.

In each case, the main supporting argument seemed to be that finding the values in a column is easier when they’re all together in a column store. Read more

November 29, 2012

Notes on Microsoft SQL Server

I’ve been known to gripe that covering big companies such as Microsoft is hard. Still, Doug Leland of Microsoft’s SQL Server team checked in for phone calls in August and again today, and I think I got enough to be worth writing about, albeit at a survey level only,

Subjects I’ll mention include:

One topic I can’t yet comment about is MOLAP/ROLAP, which is a pity; if anybody can refute my claim that ROLAP trumps MOLAP, it’s either Microsoft or Oracle.

Microsoft’s slides mentioned Yahoo refining a 6 petabyte Hadoop cluster into a 24 terabyte SQL Server “cube”, which was surprising in light of Yahoo’s history as an Oracle reference.

Read more

October 24, 2012

Quick notes on Impala

Edit: There is now a follow-up post on Cloudera Impala with substantially more detail.

In my world it’s possible to have a hasty 2-hour conversation, and that’s exactly what I had with Cloudera last week. We touched on hardware and general adoption, but much of the conversation was about Cloudera Impala, announced today. Like Hive, Impala turns Hadoop into a basic analytic RDBMS, with similar SQL/Hadoop integration benefits to those of Hadapt. In particular:

Beyond that: Read more

October 23, 2012

Introduction to Platfora

When I wrote last week that I have at least 5 clients claiming they’re uniquely positioned to support BI over Hadoop (most of whom partner with a 6th client, Tableau) the non-partnering exception I had in mind was Platfora, Ben Werther’s oh-so-stealthy startup that is finally de-stealthing today. Platfora combines:

The whole thing sounds like a perhaps more general and certainly non-SaaS version of what Metamarkets has been offering for a while.

The Platfora technical story starts: Read more

October 16, 2012

Hadapt Version 2

My clients at Hadapt are coming out with a Version 2 to be available in Q1 2013, and perhaps slipstreaming some of the features before then. At that point, it will be reasonable to regard Hadapt as offering:

Solr is in the mix as well.

Hadapt+Hadoop is positioned much more as “better than Hadoop” than “a better scale-out RDBMS”– and rightly so, due to its limitations when viewed strictly from an analytic RDBMS standpoint. I.e., Hadapt is meant for enterprises that want to do several of:

Hadapt has 6 or so production customers, a dozen or so more coming online soon, 35 or so employees (mainly in Cambridge or Poland), reasonable amounts of venture capital, and the involvement of a variety of industry luminaries. Hadapt’s biggest installation seems to have 10s of terabytes of relational data and 100s of TBs of multi-structured; Hadapt is very confident in its ability to scale an order of magnitude beyond that with the Version 2 product, and reasonably confident it could go even further.

At the highest level, Hadapt works like this: Read more

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