Analysis of database management systems optimized for general-purpose or transactional use, but not the most demanding high-end transactional applications. Related subjects include:

April 5, 2010

Notes on the evolution of OLTP database management systems

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:

I shall explain. Read more

January 15, 2010

Intersystems Cache’ highlights

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:

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

September 10, 2009

What could or should make Oracle/MySQL antitrust concerns go away?

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.

Subsequently, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not Oracle can use control of MySQL to make life difficult for third-party MySQL storage engine vendors.

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:

March 18, 2009

Database implications if IBM acquires Sun

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

November 12, 2008

MySQL is being used in an IBM Lotus appliance

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.

August 16, 2008

A NoteWorthy win for Intersystems Cache’

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:

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.)

August 11, 2008

EnterpriseDB update

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:

Read more

July 7, 2008

PostgreSQL vs. MySQL, as per EnterpriseDB

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:

Read more

April 13, 2008

ScaleDB presents The Revenge of the Pointer

The MySQL user conference is upon us, and hence so are MySQL-related product announcements, including storage engines. One such is Kickfire. ScaleDB — smaller and earlier-stage — is another.

In a nutshell, ScaleDB’s proposition is:

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

April 10, 2008

Supporting evidence for the DBMS disruption story

As previously announced, I did a webcast this afternoon, discussing database diversity. The title of the talk was taken directly from a post – What leading DBMS vendors don’t want you to realize — that argued mid-range DBMS are suitable for a broad variety of tasks. The overriding theme was a Clayton Christensen-style “disruption” narrative.

The sponsor was EnterpriseDB, which is fitting. While not the biggest DBMS industry disrupter in terms of revenue or visible impact (MySQL and Netezza say “Hi”), the Postgres family in general and EnterpriseDB in particular epitomize the disruption threat like nobody else, because of how broadly they substitute for market-leading database managers.

As I promised on the call, below is a post with links to further research backing up the points made. They’re numbered to match some of the presentation slides, which you can find at this link.

3. Much of the discussion of database diversity comes from a series of posts I coordinated with Mike Stonebraker.

4. At various times, starting on Slide 4, I made reference to datatype extensibility, a key feature of Oracle and DB2 – and a key advantage of Postgres over MySQL.

10. Capping off the database diversity discussion, Slide 10 mirrors this 11-point version of a data management software taxonomy.

13-14. I’ve posted many times about data warehousing DBMS and related technologies, including this overview of major analytic DBMS products, another recent overview of data warehouse specialty technologies, and an attempt to distinguish between data warehouse appliance myths and realities. Of particular interest for further research may be our sections on data warehouse appliances and columnar DBMS.

15. I do most of my posting about text search over on Text Technologies, specifically in the search category. Vendors I specifically mentioned as blending search with other kinds of data retrieval were Mark Logic and Attivio.

16. There’s a section here on native XML database management.

17. We also have a section on managing RDF and other graphical data models.

18. Ditto complex event/stream processing.

19. The only embeddable DBMS I’ve written much about recently is solidDB. And frankly, even in that case I’ve focused more on mid-tier caching uses, the now-canceled MySQL relationship, or general technology than I did specifically on embedded uses.

22-24. Back in February, 2007 I made what is probably still my clearest post explaining why I think market-leading DBMS vendors are in the process of getting disrupted

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