Kognitio

Discussion of Kognitio – formerly Whitecross – and what it dubiously claims is its in-memory analytic DBMS. Related subjects include:

Data warehousing

January 3, 2014

Notes on memory-centric data management

I first wrote about in-memory data management a decade ago. But I long declined to use that term — because there’s almost always a persistence story outside of RAM — and coined “memory-centric” as an alternative. Then I relented 1 1/2 years ago, and defined in-memory DBMS as

DBMS designed under the assumption that substantially all database operations will be performed in RAM (Random Access Memory)

By way of contrast:

Hybrid memory-centric DBMS is our term for a DBMS that has two modes:

  • In-memory.
  • Querying and updating (or loading into) persistent storage.

These definitions, while a bit rough, seem to fit most cases. One awkward exception is Aerospike, which assumes semiconductor memory, but is happy to persist onto flash (just not spinning disk). Another is Kognitio, which is definitely lying when it claims its product was in-memory all along, but may or may not have redesigned its technology over the decades to have become more purely in-memory. (But if they have, what happened to all the previous disk-based users??)

Two other sources of confusion are:

With all that said, here’s a little update on in-memory data management and related subjects.

And finally,

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

August 7, 2012

Notes on some basic database terminology

In a call Monday with a prominent company, I was told:

That, to put it mildly, is not accurate. So I shall try, yet again, to set the record straight.

In an industry where people often call a DBMS just a “database” — so that a database is something that manages a database! — one may wonder why I bother. Anyhow …

1. The products commonly known as Oracle, Exadata, DB2, Sybase, SQL Server, Teradata, Sybase IQ, Netezza, Vertica, Greenplum, Aster, Infobright, SAND, ParAccel, Exasol, Kognitio et al. all either are or incorporate relational database management systems, aka RDBMS or relational DBMS.

2. In principle, there can be difficulties in judging whether or not a DBMS is “relational”. In practice, those difficulties don’t arise — yet. Every significant DBMS still falls into one of two categories:

*I expect the distinction to get more confusing soon, at which point I’ll adopt terms more precise than “relational things” and “relational stuff”.

3. There are two chief kinds of relational DBMS: Read more

July 17, 2012

Why I recommend avoiding Kognitio

Since my recent post about Kognitio, things have gotten worse. The company is insistently pushing the marketing message that Kognitio has always been an in-memory product, and at one point went so far as to publicly pretend that I had agreed.

I do not agree. Yes, it’s fair to say — as I did in 2008 — that Kognitio is very RAM-centric, but that’s not at all the same thing. In particular:

The truth is that Kognitio offers a disk-based DBMS that has long been worked on by a small team. I believe that the team really has put considerable effort into how Kognitio uses RAM. But there’s no basis to give Kognitio credit for being “really” in-memory vs. a variety of other analytic RDBMS alternatives. And a row-based product that doesn’t currently offer compression is at a large disadvantage versus, say, columnar products that already do.*

*Columnar systems don’t clobber row-based ones in-memory as extremely as they do in some disk-based use cases. But even in-memory it’s good not to have to move around data that isn’t relevant to your query.

Until Kognitio gets at least somewhat more honest in its marketing, I recommend avoiding Kognitio like the plague. It’s simply not a big enough company to buy from unless you have some level of trust in the management team.

May 22, 2012

Kognitio’s story today

I had dinner tonight with the Kognitio folks. So far as I can tell:

Kognitio believes that this story is appealing, especially to smaller venture-capital-backed companies, and backs that up with some frieNDA pipeline figures.

Between that success claim and SAP’s HANA figures, it seems that the idea of using an in-memory DBMS to accelerate analytics has legs. This makes sense, as the BI vendors — Qlik Tech excepted — don’t seem to be accomplishing much with their proprietary in-memory alternatives. But I’m not sure that Kognitio would be my first choice to fill that role. Rather, if I wanted to buy an unsuccessful analytic RDBMS to use as an in-memory accelerator, I might consider ParAccel, which is columnar, has an associated compression story, has always had a hybrid memory-centric flavor much as Kognitio has, and is well ahead of Kognitio in the analytic platform derby. That said, I’ll confess to not having talked with or heard much about ParAccel for a while, so I don’t know if they’ve been able maintain technical momentum any more than Kognitio has.

April 7, 2012

Many kinds of memory-centric data management

I’m frequently asked to generalize in some way about in-memory or memory-centric data management. I can start:

Getting more specific than that is hard, however, because:

Consider, for example, some of the in-memory data management ideas kicking around. Read more

February 8, 2012

Comments on the analytic DBMS industry and Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for same

This year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems is out.* I shall now comment, just as I did on the 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Gartner Data Warehouse Database Management System Magic Quadrants, to varying extents. To frame the discussion, let me start by saying:

*As of February, 2012 — and surely for many months thereafter — Teradata is graciously paying for a link to the report.

Specific company comments, roughly in line with Gartner’s rough single-dimensional rank ordering, include: Read more

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

February 2, 2009

One vendor’s trash is another’s treasure

A few months ago, CEO Mayank Bawa of Aster Data commented to me on his surprise at how “profound” the relationship was between design choices in one aspect of a data warehouse DBMS and choices in other parts. The word choice in that was all Mayank, but the underlying thought is one I’ve long shared, and that I’m certain architects of many analytic DBMS share as well.

For that matter, the observation is no doubt true in many other product categories as well. But in the analytic database management arena, where there are literally 10-20+ competitors with different, non-stupid approaches, it seems most particularly valid. Here are some examples of what I mean. Read more

January 12, 2009

Database SaaS gains a little visibility

Way back in the 1970s, a huge fraction of analytic database management was done via timesharing, specifically in connection with the RAMIS and FOCUS business-intelligence-precursor fourth-generation languages.  (Both were written by Gerry Cohen, who built his company Information Builders around the latter one.)  The market for remoting-computing business intelligence has never wholly gone away since. Indeed, it’s being revived now, via everything from the analytics part of Salesforce.com to the service category I call data mart outsourcing.

Less successful to date are efforts in the area of pure database software-as-a-service.  It seems that if somebody is going for SaaS anyway, they usually want a more complete, integrated offering. The most noteworthy exceptions I can think of to this general rule are Kognitio and Vertica, and they only have a handful of database SaaS customers each. To wit: Read more

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