Structured documents

Analysis of data management technology based on a structured-document model, or optimized for XML data. Related subjects include:

May 20, 2013

Some stuff I’m working on

1. I have some posts up on Strategic Messaging. The most recent are overviews of messaging, pricing, and positioning.

2. Numerous vendors are blending SQL and JSON management in their short-request DBMS. It will take some more work for me to have a strong opinion about the merits/demerits of various alternatives.

The default implementation — one example would be Clustrix’s — is to stick the JSON into something like a BLOB/CLOB field (Binary/Character Large Object), index on individual values, and treat those indexes just like any others for the purpose of SQL statements. Drawbacks include:

IBM DB2 is one recent arrival to the JSON party. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask whether IBM’s JSON implementation was based on IBM DB2 pureXML when I had the chance, and IBM hasn’t gotten around to answering my followup query.

3. Nor has IBM gotten around to answering my followup queries on the subject of BLU, an interesting-sounding columnar option for DB2.

4. Numerous clients have asked me whether they should be active in DBaaS (DataBase as a Service). After all, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace and salesforce.com are all in that business in some form, and other big companies have dipped toes in as well. Read 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

November 27, 2012

B2C internet software

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

November 19, 2012

Couchbase 2.0

My clients at Couchbase checked in.

The big changes in Couchbase 2.0 versus the previous (1.8.x) version are:

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

July 18, 2012

Clustrix 4.0 and other Clustrix stuff

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:

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

July 8, 2012

Database diversity revisited

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:

The Big Seven database challenges that almost any enterprise faces are: Read more

July 5, 2012

Introduction to Neo Technology and Neo4j

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:

Numbers and historical facts include:

Read more

January 10, 2012

Splunk update

Splunk is announcing the Splunk 4.3 point release. Before discussing it, let’s recall a few things about Splunk, starting with:

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:

That’s pretty much the ideal scenario for mobile BI: Timeliness matters and prettiness doesn’t.

Read more

November 1, 2011

MarkLogic 5, and why you might care

MarkLogic is releasing MarkLogic 5. Key elements of the announcement are:

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:

Based on that reality, MarkLogic talks a lot about Volume, Velocity, Variety, Big Data, unstructured data, semi-structured data, and big data analytics.

Read more

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