Analysis of MySQL-based data warehouse appliance vendor Kickfire (formerly C2). Related subjects include:
Kickfire’s basic value proposition is that, if you have a data warehouse in the 100s of gigabytes, they’ll sell you – for $32,000 – a tiny box that solves all your query performance problems, as per the Kickfire spec sheet. And Kickfire backs that up with a pretty cool product design. However, thanks in no small part to what was heretofore Kickfire’s penchant for self-defeating secrecy, the Kickfire story is not widely appreciated.
Fortunately, Kickfire is getting over its secrecy kick. And so, here are some Kickfire technical basics.
- Kickfire is MySQL-based, with all the SQL functionality and lack of functionality that entails.
- The Kickfire/MySQL DBMS is columnar, with the usual benefits in compression and I/O reduction.
- Kickfire is based on FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays).
- The Kickfire DBMS is ACID-compliant.
- Kickfire runs only as a single-box appliance.
- While Kickfire earlier estimated that, at least for data sets that compressed well, a Kickfire box could hold 3-10 terabytes of user data, more recent figures I’ve heard from Kickfire have been in the 1-1 /2 terabyte range. (Edit: Karl Van Der Bergh subsequently wrote in to say that the 1 1/2 TB is raw disk figure, not user data.)
The new information there is that Kickfire relies on an FPGA; Read more
|Categories: Analytic technologies, Columnar database management, Data warehouse appliances, Data warehousing, Database compression, Kickfire, MySQL, Theory and architecture||16 Comments|
Over the past couple of years, quite a few data warehouse appliance or DBMS vendors have talked to me directly in terms of “Netezza’s price point,” or some similar phrase. Some have indicated that they’re right around the Netezza price point, but think their products are superior to Netezza’s. Others have stressed the large gap between their price and Netezza’s. But one way or the other, “Netezza’s price” has been an industry metric.
One reason everybody talks about the “Netezza (list) price” is that it hasn’t been changing much, seemingly staying stable at $50-60K/terabyte for a long time. And thus Teradata’s 2550 and Oracle’s larger-disk Exadata configuration — both priced more or less in the same range — have clearly been price-competitive with Netezza since their respective introductions.
That just changed. Netezza is cutting its pricing to the $20K/terabyte range imminently, with further cuts to come. So where does that leave competitors?
- The Teradata 1550 is in the Netezza price range (still a little below, actually).
- Oracle basically has nothing price-competitive with Netezza.
- Microsoft has stated it plans to introduce Madison below the old DATAllegro price points; conceivably, that could be competitive with Netezza’s new pricing, although I haven’t checked as to how much it now costs simply to buy a lot of SQL Server licenses (which presumably would be a Madison lower bound, and might except for hardware be the whole thing, since Microsoft likes to create large product bundles).
- XtremeData just launched in the new Netezza price range.
- Troubled Dataupia is hard to judge. While on the surface Dataupia’s prices sound very low, you can’t use a Dataupia box unless you also have a brand-name DBMS (license and hardware) alongside it. That obviously affects total cost significantly.
- Kickfire seems unaffected, as it doesn’t and most likely won’t compete with Netezza (different database size ranges).
- For the most part, software-only vendors are free to adapt or not as they choose. Hardware prices generally don’t need to be over $10K/terabyte, and in some cases could be a lot less. So the question is how far they’re willing to discount their software.
|Categories: Analytic technologies, Data warehouse appliances, Data warehousing, Dataupia, Exadata, Kickfire, Oracle, Pricing, Teradata, XtremeData||14 Comments|
(This is an updated version of an August, 2008 post.)
One of my favorite pages on the Monash Research website is the list of many current and a few notable past customers. (Another favorite page is the one for testimonials.) For a variety of reasons, I won’t undertake to be more precise about my current customer list than that. But I don’t think it would hurt anything to list the analytic/data warehouse DBMS/appliance specialists in the group. They are:
- Aster Data
- Netezza (my biggest client this year, probably, because of all the Enzee Universe appearances)
- Attivio, which may or may not be construed as being in the analytic DBMS business
- Clearpace, ditto
All of those are Monash Advantage members.
If you care about all this, you may also be interested in the rest of my standards and disclosures.
|Categories: About this blog, Aster Data, Data warehousing, Greenplum, Infobright, Kickfire, Microsoft and SQL*Server, Netezza, Sybase, Teradata, Vertica Systems||4 Comments|
Daniel Abadi has a new blog, whose first post centers around Kickfire. The money quote is (emphasis mine):
In order for me to get excited about Kickfire, I have to ignore Mike Stonebraker’s voice in my head telling me that DBMS hardware companies have been launched many times in the past are ALWAYS fail (the main reasoning is that Moore’s law allows for commodity hardware to catch up in performance, eventually making the proprietary hardware overpriced and irrelevant). But given that Moore’s law is transforming into increased parallelism rather than increased raw speed, maybe hardware DBMS companies can succeed now where they have failed in the past
More generally, Abadi speculates about the market for MySQL-compatible data warehousing. My responses include:
- OF COURSE there are many MySQL users who need to move to a serious analytic DBMS.
- What’s less clear is whether there’s any big advantage to those users in remaining MySQL-compatible when they do move. I’m not sure what MySQL-specific syntax or optimizations they’d have that would be difficult to port to a non-MySQL system.
- It’s nice to see Abadi speaking well of Infobright and its technology.
- To say that Infobright went open source because it was “desperate” is overstated. That said, I don’t think Infobright was on track to prosper without going open source.
- While open source and MySQL go together, an appliance like Kickfire loses many (not all) of the benefits of open source.
- Calpont has indeed never disclosed a customer win. Any year now … (Just kidding, Vogel!)
- In general, seeing Abadi be so favorable toward Vertica competitors adds credibiity to the recent Hadoop vs. DBMS paper.
|Categories: Calpont, Columnar database management, Data warehouse appliances, Data warehousing, DBMS product categories, Infobright, Kickfire, MySQL, Open source, Theory and architecture||2 Comments|
As my first three posts on the Oracle/Sun merger suggested, I think Oracle will do a better job with MySQL product development than Sun has. But of course that’s a low hurdle. And so it leaves open the questions:
What should and/or will be the most widely adopted code lines of MySQL (or other open source DBMS),
especially for the types of users and vendors who are engaged with MySQL (as opposed to principal alternative PostgreSQL) today?
As much as I’ve bashed MySQL/MyISAM and MySQL/InnoDB for being low-quality general-purpose DBMS, I’d still hate to see MySQL-based development stall out. There are a number of MySQL engine providers with rather unique technology, that deserve a good front-end partner to build their products with. The high-volume sharding guys deserve the chance to continue down their current path as well. And so does the low-end mass market — although I’m least worried about them, as I can’t imagine any realistic scenario in which Oracle doesn’t offer a version of MySQL fully suited to support 10s of millions of WordPress and Joomla installations.
So far as I can tell, there are only four real and currently active candidates for MySQL code coordinator:
- MySQL itself, soon to be owned by Oracle.
- MariaDB, Monty Widenius’ proposed mainstream MySQL alternative
- Percona, which seems to have some fans as a superior alternative to vendor-supplied MySQL/InnoDB
- Drizzle, which is directly focused at web-centric MySQL users who never wanted a robust DBMS in the first place.
Oracle isn’t a very comfortable partner long term for the storage engine vendors, and Drizzle doesn’t seem to be what they need. So I think that Infobright, Kickfire, Tokutek, Calpont, et al. need to get aligned in a hurry with an outside MySQL provider such as Percona or MariaDB or a newcomer, preferably all with the same one. Yes, I understand that Infobright is getting a lot of marketing help from Sun these days, that Kickfire just got a nice-sounding Sun marketing announcement as well, and so on. But the time to start working toward the inevitable future is now.
And by “now” I mean “right now,” since the MySQL community is at this moment gathered together for its annual conference.
Here’s what I know about MySQL storage engines, more or less.
- MySQL with MyISAM is fast. But it’s not transactional. Except for limited purposes, MySQL with MyISAM is a pretty crummy DBMS. Nothing can change that.
- MySQL with InnoDB is transactional. But it’s not particularly fast. MySQL with InnoDB is a pretty mediocre DBMS. Oracle could fix that, at least partially, over time.
- I don’t know much about Falcon, Maria, and so on. With Oracle winding up owning both MySQL and InnoDB, the motivation for those engines (except as Oracle-free forks) might fade.
- Infobright is the most established of the rest. At the moment I’m not recommending it for most industrial-strength uses unless the user is particularly cash-constrained. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed soon. A cheap, fast, simple columnar analytic DBMS has a place in the world.
- Kickfire is next in line, offering a hardware-based growth path for users who’ve maxed out on what unaided MySQL can do. It remains to be seen for how many users the desire to keep things simple and stay with MySQL outweighs the desire to avoid custom hardware. Having Oracle salespeople all over those accounts surely wouldn’t help. Kickfire also has a second market, namely OEM vendors who are mainly interested in the superfast chip. That would probably be pretty unaffected by Oracle.
- Tokutek offers a technical proposition that’s hard to match head-on without going the CEP route. Users who care are likely to be MySQL shops. Tokutek’s main challenge is to prove that it sufficiently outdoes competing technical strategies for sufficiently many users. Oracle ownership of MySQL seems pretty irrelevant to Tokutek’s success or failure.
- Calpont offers a kind of lightweight Exadata alternative. With Calpont’s packaging and positioning perennially unclear, it’s difficult to predict the effect of a particular change — i.e., Oracle buying MySQL — in Calpont’s market environment.
- I haven’t heard from transactionally-oriented ScaleDB since I wrote about them a year ago. Apparently, they’re rolling out beta product this week, and their venerable techie guru sadly passed away earlier this month.
|Categories: Calpont, Columnar database management, Data warehousing, Exadata, Infobright, Kickfire, MySQL, Open source, Oracle, Tokutek and TokuDB||14 Comments|
After writing about a Twitter jobs page, it occurred to me to check out whether analytic DBMS vendors are still hiring. Based on the Careers pages on their websites, I determined that Aster, Greenplum, Kickfire, and ParAccel all evidently are, in various mixes of (mainly) technical and field positions. At that point I got bored and stopped.
I didn’t choose those vendors entirely at random. If I had to name three vendors who are said to have had small layoffs at some point over the past few quarters, it would be ParAccel, Greenplum, and Kickfire. So if even they are hiring, the analytic DBMS sector is still pretty healthy … or at least thinks it is.
I talked recently with my clients at Kickfire, especially newish CEO Bruce Armstrong. I also visited the Kickfire blog, which among other virtues features a fairly clear overview of Kickfire technology. (I did my own Kickfire overview in October.) Highlights of the current Kickfire story include:
- Kickfire is initially focused on three heavily overlapping markets — network event analysis, the general Web 2.0/clickstream/online marketing analytics area, and MySQL/LAMP data warehousing.
- Kickfire has blogged about a few sales to unnamed customers in those markets.
- I think network management is a market that’s potentially friendly to five-figure-cost appliances. After all, networking equipment is generally sold in appliance form. Kickfire doesn’t dispute this analysis.
- Kickfire’s sales so far are to run databases in the sub-terabyte range, although both Kickfire and its customers intend to run bigger databases soon. (Kickfire describes the range as 300 GB – 1 TB.) Not coincidentally, Kickfire believes that MySQL doesn’t scale very well past 100 GB without a lot of partitioning effort (in the case of data warehouses) or sharding (in the case of OLTP).
- When Bruce became CEO, he let go some sales, marketing, and/or business development folks. He likes to call this a restructuring of Kickfire rather than a reduction-in-force, but anyhow — that’s what happened. There are now about 50 employees, and Kickfire still has most of the $20 million it raised last August in the bank. Edit: The company clarifies that it actually wound up with more sales and marketing people than before.
- Kickfire has thankfully deemphasized various marketing themes I found annoying, such as ascribing great weight to TPC-H benchmarks or explaining why John von Neumann originally made bad choices in his principles of computer design.
|Categories: Data warehouse appliances, Data warehousing, Kickfire, MySQL, Open source, Web analytics||1 Comment|
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
|Categories: Actian and Ingres, Data warehousing, EnterpriseDB and Postgres Plus, Greenplum, IBM and DB2, Infobright, Kickfire, Kognitio, Microsoft and SQL*Server, Mid-range, MySQL, Open source, ParAccel, PostgreSQL, solidDB||10 Comments|
I need to finalize an already-too-long slide deck on how to select an analytic DBMS by late Thursday night. Anybody see something I’m overlooking, or just plain got wrong?
Edit: The slides have now been finalized.