Emulation, transparency, portability

Analysis of products that support the emulation of market-leading database management systems. Related subjects include:

November 23, 2016

MongoDB 3.4 and “multimodel” query

“Multimodel” database management is a hot new concept these days, notwithstanding that it’s been around since at least the 1990s. My clients at MongoDB of course had to join the train as well, but they’ve taken a clear and interesting stance:

When I pointed out that it would make sense to call this “multimodel query” — because the storage isn’t “multimodel” at all — they quickly agreed.

To be clear: While there are multiple ways to read data in MongoDB, there’s still only one way to write it. Letting that sink in helps clear up confusion as to what about MongoDB is or isn’t “multimodel”. To spell that out a bit further: Read more

December 7, 2015

Transitioning to the cloud(s)

There’s a lot of talk these days about transitioning to the cloud, by IT customers and vendors alike. Of course, I have thoughts on the subject, some of which are below.

1. The economies of scale of not running your own data centers are real. That’s the kind of non-core activity almost all enterprises should outsource. Of course, those considerations taken alone argue equally for true cloud, co-location or SaaS (Software as a Service).

2. When the (Amazon) cloud was newer, I used to hear that certain kinds of workloads didn’t map well to the architecture Amazon had chosen. In particular, shared-nothing analytic query processing was necessarily inefficient. But I’m not hearing nearly as much about that any more.

3. Notwithstanding the foregoing, not everybody loves Amazon pricing.

4. Infrastructure vendors such as Oracle would like to also offer their infrastructure to you in the cloud. As per the above, that could work. However:

Actually, if we replace “Oracle” by “Microsoft”, the whole idea sounds better. While Microsoft doesn’t have a proprietary server hardware story like Oracle’s, many folks are content in the Microsoft walled garden. IBM has fiercely loyal customers as well, and so may a couple of Japanese computer manufacturers.

5. Even when running stuff in the cloud is otherwise a bad idea, there’s still: Read more

March 23, 2015

A new logical data layer?

I’m skeptical of data federation. I’m skeptical of all-things-to-all-people claims about logical data layers, and in particular of Gartner’s years-premature “Logical Data Warehouse” buzzphrase. Still, a reasonable number of my clients are stealthily trying to do some kind of data layer middleware, as are other vendors more openly, and I don’t think they’re all crazy.

Here are some thoughts as to why, and also as to challenges that need to be overcome.

There are many things a logical data layer might be trying to facilitate — writing, querying, batch data integration, real-time data integration and more. That said:

Read more

March 5, 2015

Cask and CDAP

For starters:


So far as I can tell:

Read more

February 18, 2015

Hadoop: And then there were three

Hortonworks, IBM, EMC Pivotal and others have announced a project called “Open Data Platform” to do … well, I’m not exactly sure what. Mainly, it sounds like:

Edit: Now there’s a press report saying explicitly that Hortonworks is taking over Pivotal’s Hadoop distro customers (which basically would mean taking over the support contracts and then working to migrate them to Hortonworks’ distro).

The claim is being made that this announcement solves some kind of problem about developing to multiple versions of the Hadoop platform, but to my knowledge that’s a problem rarely encountered in real life. When you already have a multi-enterprise open source community agreeing on APIs (Application Programming interfaces), what API inconsistency remains for a vendor consortium to painstakingly resolve?

Anyhow, it now seems clear that if you want to use a Hadoop distribution, there are three main choices:

In saying that, I’m glossing over a few points, such as: Read more

January 10, 2015


There is much confusion about migration, by which I mean applications or investment being moved from one “platform” technology — hardware, operating system, DBMS, Hadoop, appliance, cluster, cloud, etc. — to another. Let’s sort some of that out. For starters:

I mixed together true migration and new-app platforms in a post last year about DBMS architecture choices, when I wrote: Read more

July 20, 2014

Data integration as a business opportunity

A significant fraction of IT professional services industry revenue comes from data integration. But as a software business, data integration has been more problematic. Informatica, the largest independent data integration software vendor, does $1 billion in revenue. INFA’s enterprise value (market capitalization after adjusting for cash and debt) is $3 billion, which puts it way short of other category leaders such as VMware, and even sits behind Tableau.* When I talk with data integration startups, I ask questions such as “What fraction of Informatica’s revenue are you shooting for?” and, as a follow-up, “Why would that be grounds for excitement?”

*If you believe that Splunk is a data integration company, that changes these observations only a little.

On the other hand, several successful software categories have, at particular points in their history, been focused on data integration. One of the major benefits of 1990s business intelligence was “Combines data from multiple sources on the same screen” and, in some cases, even “Joins data from multiple sources in a single view”. The last few years before application servers were commoditized, data integration was one of their chief benefits. Data warehousing and Hadoop both of course have a “collect all your data in one place” part to their stories — which I call data mustering — and Hadoop is a data transformation tool as well.

Read more

April 23, 2013

MemSQL scales out

The third of my three MySQL-oriented clients I alluded to yesterday is MemSQL. When I wrote about MemSQL last June, the product was an in-memory single-server MySQL workalike. Now scale-out has been added, with general availability today.

MemSQL’s flagship reference is Zynga, across 100s of servers. Beyond that, the company claims (to quote a late draft of the press release):

Enterprises are already using distributed MemSQL in production for operational analytics, network security, real-time recommendations, and risk management.

All four of those use cases fit MemSQL’s positioning in “real-time analytics”. Besides Zynga, MemSQL cites penetration into traditional low-latency markets — financial services (various subsectors) and ad-tech.

Highlights of MemSQL’s new distributed architecture start: Read more

April 15, 2013

Teradata SQL-H

As vendors so often do, Teradata has caused itself some naming confusion. SQL-H was introduced as a facility of Teradata Aster, to complement SQL-MR.* But while SQL-MR is in essence a set of SQL extensions, SQL-H is not. Rather, SQL-H is a transparency interface that makes Hadoop data responsive to the same code that would work on Teradata Aster …

*Speaking of confusion — Teradata Aster seems to use the spellings SQL/MR and SQL-MR interchangeably.

… except that now there’s also a SQL-H for regular Teradata systems as well. While it has the same general features and benefits as SQL-H for Teradata Aster, the details are different, since the underlying systems are.

I hope that’s clear. :)

February 5, 2013

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

The 2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems is out. I’ll split my comments into two posts — this one on concepts, and a companion on specific vendor evaluations.


Let’s start by again noting that I regard Gartner Magic Quadrants as a bad use of good research. On the facts:

When it comes to evaluations, however, the Gartner Data Warehouse DBMS Magic Quadrant doesn’t do as well. My concerns (which overlap) start:

Read more

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