Analysis of data management technology based on a structured-document model, or optimized for XML data. Related subjects include:
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:
- Every level of storage (disk, RAM, etc.).
- Indexes, aggregates and raw data alike.
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
I recently opined that, especially for cutting-edge internet businesses, analytic applications were not a realistic option; rather, analytic application subsystems are the most you can currently expect. Erin Griffith further observed that the problem isn’t just confined to analytics:
“We didn’t need 90 percent of the stuff they were offering, and when we told them what we did need — integration with social, curation tools, individual boutiques and analytics — they had nothing”
… a suitable solution to merge his editorial staff’s output with his separate site for selling tickets to events and goods … was not available, so had to build his own hybrid publishing and commerce platform. Likewise, Birchbox had to build a custom backend so that it could include videos and editorial content alongside its e-commerce site.
… it’s DIY or die.
With that as background, let’s consider why building business-to-consumer internet software is so complicated.
I’d suggest that a consumer website starts with four major conceptual parts: Read more
My clients at Couchbase checked in.
- After multiple delays, Couchbase 2.0 is well into beta, with general availability being delayed by the holiday season as much as anything else.
- Couchbase (the company) now has >350 subscription customers, almost all for Couchbase (the product) — which is to say for what was known as Membase, which is basically a persistent version of Memcached.
- There also are many users of open source Couchbase, most famously LinkedIn.
- Orbitz is a much-mentioned flagship paying Couchbase customer.
- Couchbase customers mainly seem to be replacing a caching layer, Memcached or otherwise.
- Couchbase headcount is just under 100.
The big changes in Couchbase 2.0 versus the previous (1.8.x) version are:
- JSON storage, including secondary indexes.
- Multi-data-center replication.
- A back-end change from SQLite to a heavily forked version of CouchDB, called Couchstore.
Couchbase 2.0 is upwards-compatible with prior versions of Couchbase (and hence with Memcached), but not with CouchDB.
Technology notes on Couchbase 2.0 include: Read more
|Categories: Basho and Riak, Cache, Cassandra, Clustering, Couchbase, MapReduce, Market share and customer counts, MongoDB and 10gen, NoSQL, Open source, Structured documents||4 Comments|
It feels like time to write about Clustrix, which I last covered in detail in May, 2010, and which is releasing Clustrix 4.0 today. Clustrix and Clustrix 4.0 basics include:
- Clustrix makes a short-request processing appliance.
- As you might guess from the name, Clustrix is clustered — peer-to-peer, with no head node.
- The Clustrix appliance uses flash/solid-state storage.
- Traditionally, Clustrix has run a MySQL-compatible DBMS.
- Clustrix 4.0 introduces JSON support. More on that below.
- Clustrix 4.0 introduces a bunch of administrative features, and parallel backup.
- Also in today’s announcement is a Rackspace partnership to offer Clustrix remotely, at monthly pricing.
- Clustrix has been shipping product for about 4 years.
- Clustrix has 20 customers in production, running >125 Clustrix nodes total.
- Clustrix has 60 people.
- List price for a (smallest size) Clustrix system is $150K for 3 nodes. Highest-end maintenance costs 15%.
- There’s also a $100K version meant for high availability/disaster recovery. Over half of Clustrix’s customers use off-site disaster recovery.
- Clustrix is raising a C round. Part of it has already been raised from insiders, as a kind of bridge.
The biggest Clustrix installation seems to be 20 nodes or so. Others seem to have 10+. I presume those disaster recovery customers have 6 or more nodes each. I’m not quite sure how the arithmetic on that all works; perhaps the 125ish count of nodes is a bit low.
Clustrix technical notes include: Read more
|Categories: Cloud computing, Clustering, Clustrix, Database compression, Market share and customer counts, MySQL, OLTP, Pricing, Structured documents||4 Comments|
From time to time, I try to step back and build a little taxonomy for the variety in database technology. One effort was 4 1/2 years ago, in a pre-planned exchange with Mike Stonebraker (his side, alas, has since been taken down). A year ago I spelled out eight kinds of analytic database.
The angle I’ll take this time is to say that every sufficiently large enterprise needs to be cognizant of at least 7 kinds of database challenge. General notes on that include:
- I’m using the weasel words “database challenge” to evade questions as to what is or isn’t exactly a DBMS.
- One “challenge” can call for multiple products and technologies even within a single enterprise, let alone at different ones. For example, in this post the “eight kinds of analytic database” are reduced to just a single category.
- Even so, one product or technology may be well-suited to address a couple different kinds of challenges.
The Big Seven database challenges that almost any enterprise faces are: Read more
|Categories: Data integration and middleware, Data models and architecture, Database diversity, EAI, EII, ETL, ELT, ETLT, Hadoop, Memory-centric data management, NoSQL, Object, OLTP, RDF and graphs, Structured documents, Talend, Text||3 Comments|
I’ve been talking some with the Neo Technology/Neo4j guys, including Emil Eifrem (CEO/cofounder), Johan Svensson (CTO/cofounder), and Philip Rathle (Senior Director of Products). Basics include:
- Neo Technology came up with Neo4j, open sourced it, and is building a company around the open source core product in the usual way.
- Neo4j is a graph DBMS.
- Neo4j is unlike some other graph DBMS in that:
- Neo4j is designed for OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing), or at least as a general-purpose DBMS, rather than being focused on investigative analytics.
- To every node or edge managed by Neo4j you can associate an arbitrary collection of (name,value) pairs — i.e., what might be called a document.
Numbers and historical facts include:
- > 50 paying Neo4j customers.
- Estimated 1000s of production Neo4j users of open source version.*
- Estimated 1/3 of paying customers and free users using Neo4j as a “system of record”.
- >30,000 downloads/month, in some sense of “download”.
- 35 people in 6 countries, vs. 25 last December.
- $13 million in VC, most of it last October.
- Started in 2000 as the underpinnings for a content management system.
- A version of the technology in production in 2003.
- Neo4j first open-sourced in 2007.
- Big-name customers including Cisco, Adobe, and Deutsche Telekom.
- Pricing of either $6,000 or $24,000 per JVM per year for two different commercial versions.
|Categories: Market share and customer counts, Neo Technology and Neo4j, Open source, Pricing, RDF and graphs, Structured documents, Telecommunications||10 Comments|
Splunk is announcing the Splunk 4.3 point release. Before discussing it, let’s recall a few things about Splunk, starting with:
- Splunk is first and foremost an analytic DBMS …
- … used to manage logs and similar multistructured data.
- Splunk’s DML (Data Manipulation Language) is based on text search, not on SQL.
- Splunk has extended its DML in natural ways (e.g., you can use it to do calculations and even some statistics).
- Splunk bundles some (very) basic, Splunk-specific business intelligence capabilities.
- The paradigmatic use of Splunk is to monitor IT operations in real time. However:
- There also are plenty of non-real-time uses for Splunk.
- Splunk is proudest of its growth in non-IT quasi-real-time uses, such as the marketing side of web operations.
As in any release, a lot of Splunk 4.3 is about “Oh, you didn’t have that before?” features and Bottleneck Whack-A-Mole performance speed-up. One performance enhancement is Bloom filters, which are a very hot topic these days. More important is a switch from Flash to HTML5, so as to accommodate mobile devices with less server-side rendering. Splunk reports that its users — especially the non-IT ones — really want to get Splunk information on the tablet devices. While this somewhat contradicts what I wrote a few days ago pooh-poohing mobile BI, let me hasten to point out:
- Splunk is used for a lot of (quasi) real-time monitoring.
- Splunk’s desktop user interfaces are, by BI standards, quite primitive.
That’s pretty much the ideal scenario for mobile BI: Timeliness matters and prettiness doesn’t.
|Categories: Business intelligence, Data models and architecture, Data warehousing, Log analysis, Specific users, Splunk, Structured documents, Web analytics||3 Comments|
MarkLogic is releasing MarkLogic 5. Key elements of the announcement are:
- More-of-the-same in line with MarkLogic’s core positioning.
- A new bi-directional Hadoop connector.
- A free MarkLogic Express edition, limited in license terms more than in actual features, as per Slide 27 of the deck MarkLogic graciously supplied for me to post.
Also, MarkLogic is early with a feature that most serious DBMS vendors will soon have – support for tiered storage, with writes going first to solid-state storage, then being flushed to disk via a caching-style algorithm.* And as befits a sometime search-engine-substitute, MarkLogic has finally licensed a large set of document filters, from an Australian company called Isys. Apparently, the special virtue of the Isys filters is that they’re good at extracting not only text, but metadata as well.
*If there’s a caching algorithm that doesn’t contain a major element of LRU (Least Recently Used), I don’t recall ever hearing about it.
MarkLogic seems to have settled on a positioning that, although distressingly buzzword-heavy, is at least partly based upon reality. The real part includes:
- MarkLogic is a serious, enterprise-class DBMS (see for example Slide 12 of the MarkLogic deck) …
- … which has been optimized from the getgo for poly-structured data.
- MarkLogic can and does scale out to handle large amounts of data.
- MarkLogic is a general-purpose DBMS, suitable for both short-request and analytic tasks.
- MarkLogic is particularly well suited for analyses with long chains of “progressive enhancement” (MarkLogic’s favorite term when talking about derived data).
- MarkLogic often plays the role of a content assembler and/or search engine, and the people who use MarkLogic in those ways are commonly doing things that can be described as research and analysis.
Based on that reality, MarkLogic talks a lot about Volume, Velocity, Variety, Big Data, unstructured data, semi-structured data, and big data analytics.
|Categories: Hadoop, Market share and customer counts, MarkLogic, Scientific research, Solid-state memory, Structured documents, Text||1 Comment|
Alex Williams noticed that there will be a NoSQL session at Oracle OpenWorld next week, and is wondering whether this will be a big deal. I think it won’t be.
There really are three major points to NoSQL.
- Dynamic schemas. This is the only one of the three that truly depends on NoSQL.
- Scale-out short-request processing. If you want to scale out efficiently at high request volumes, you’re best off not using all the flexibility SQL/relational DBMS offer. (In particular, you don’t want to do cross-node joins). Not coincidentally, a number of the best scale-out offerings were built to be NoSQL.
- Open source. Doing a relational DBMS is a big project. It seems easier to build NoSQL ones.
Oracle can address the latter two points as aggressively as it wishes via MySQL. It so happens I would generally recommend MySQL enhanced by dbShards, Schooner, and/or dbShards/Schooner, rather than Oracle-only MySQL … but that’s a detail. In some form or other, Oracle’s MySQL is a huge player in the scale-out, open source, short-request database management market.
So that leaves us with dynamic schemas. Oracle has at least four different sets of technology in that area:
- As Workday noticed years ago, MySQL can be used as a functional, basic key-value store.
- Oracle also has XML-based Berkeley DB/SleepyCat kicking around.*
- The XML extensions to Oracle’s core DBMS could be alleged to have a dynamic schema/NoSQL flavor. (Blech.)
- A dynamic schema argument could also be made for object-oriented DBMS technology. While Oracle doesn’t to my knowledge exactly sell that, it does have the Tangosol Coherence line of technology, with a potentially similar programming model.
If Oracle is now refreshing and rebranding one or more of these as “NoSQL”, there’s no reason to view that as a big deal at all.
*That’s Mike Olson’s former company, if you’re keeping score at home.
|Categories: MySQL, NoSQL, Object, OLTP, Open source, Oracle, Parallelization, Schooner Information Technology, Structured documents||13 Comments|
HP has announced that:
- HP is buying Autonomy.
- HP is pulling back from WebOS.
- HP may spin off its PC business altogether.
On a high level, this means:
- HP is doubling down on enterprise IT.
- HP is taking a more software-centric approach to the enterprise IT business.
- HP is backing away from the consumer electronics business.
- HP in particular is backing away from the generic desktop/laptop PC business, which may with only moderate exaggeration be regarded as:
- The intersection of the enterprise IT and consumer electronics businesses.
- The least attractive sector of each.
My coverage of Autonomy isn’t exactly current, but I don’t know of anything that contradicts long-time competitor* Dave Kellogg’s skeptical view of Autonomy. Autonomy is a collection of businesses involved in the management, search, and retrieval of poly-structured data, in some cases with strong market share, but even so not necessarily with the strongest of reputations for technology or technology momentum. Autonomy started from a text search engine and a Bayesian search algorithm on top of that, which did a decent job for many customers. But if there’s been much in the way of impressive enhancement over the past 8-10 years, I’ve missed the news.
*Dave, of course, was CEO of MarkLogic.
Questions obviously arise about how the Autonomy acquisition relates to other HP businesses. My early thoughts include: Read more
|Categories: HP and Neoview, Market share and customer counts, Structured documents, Text, Vertica Systems||10 Comments|