Progress, Apama, and DataDirect
Analysis of Progress Software and its various product lines, including Apama, DataDirect, and OpenEdge. Related subjects include:
- CEP (Complex Event Processing)
- Mid-range OLTP and general-purpose database management systems
- (in Text Technologies) Progress’ EasyAsk natural language recognition technology
Many of the companies I talk with boast of freeing business analysts from reliance on IT. This, to put it mildly, is not a unique value proposition. As I wrote in 2012, when I went on a history of analytics posting kick,
- Most interesting analytic software has been adopted first and foremost at the departmental level.
- People seem to be forgetting that fact.
In particular, I would argue that the following analytic technologies started and prospered largely through departmental adoption:
- Fourth-generation languages (the analytically-focused ones, which in fact started out being consumed on a remote/time-sharing basis)
- Electronic spreadsheets
- 1990s-era business intelligence
- Fancy-visualization business intelligence
- Predictive analytics
- Text analytics
- Rules engines
What brings me back to the topic is conversations I had this week with Paxata and Metanautix. The Paxata story starts:
- Paxata is offering easy — and hopefully in the future comprehensive — “data preparation” tools …
- … that are meant to be used by business analysts rather than ETL (Extract/Transform/Load) specialists or other IT professionals …
- … where what Paxata means by “data preparation” is not specifically what a statistician would mean by the term, but rather generally refers to getting data ready for business intelligence or other analytics.
Metanautix seems to aspire to a more complete full-analytic-stack-without-IT kind of story, but clearly sees the data preparation part as a big part of its value.
If there’s anything new about such stories, it has to be on the transformation side; BI tools have been helping with data extraction since — well, since the dawn of BI. Read more
|Categories: Business intelligence, Datameer, EAI, EII, ETL, ELT, ETLT, Predictive modeling and advanced analytics, Progress, Apama, and DataDirect||8 Comments|
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.
Relational DBMS used to be fairly straightforward product suites, which boiled down to:
- A big SQL interpreter.
- A bunch of administrative and operational tools.
- Some very optional add-ons, often including an application development tool.
Now, however, most RDBMS are sold as part of something bigger.
- Oracle has hugely thickened its stack, as part of an Innovator’s Solution strategy — hardware, middleware, applications, business intelligence, and more.
- IBM has moved aggressively to a bundled “appliance” strategy. Even before that, IBM DB2 long sold much better to committed IBM accounts than as a software-only offering.
- Microsoft SQL Server is part of a stack, starting with the Windows operating system.
- Sybase was an exception to this rule, with thin(ner) stacks for both Adaptive Server Enterprise and Sybase IQ. But Sybase is now owned by SAP, and increasingly integrated as a business with …
- … SAP HANA, which is closely associated with SAP’s applications.
- Teradata has always been a hardware/software vendor. The most successful of its analytic DBMS rivals, in some order, are:
- Netezza, a pure appliance vendor, now part of IBM.
- Greenplum, an appliance-mainly vendor for most (not all) of its existence, and in particular now as a part of EMC Pivotal.
- Vertica, more of a software-only vendor than the others, but now owned by and increasingly mainstreamed into hardware vendor HP.
- MySQL’s glory years were as part of the “LAMP” stack.
- Various thin-stack RDBMS that once were or could have been important market players … aren’t. Examples include Progress OpenEdge, IBM Informix, and the various strays adopted by Actian.
The 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Operational Database Management Systems is out. “Operational” seems to be Gartner’s term for what I call short-request, in each case the point being that OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) is a dubious term when systems omit strict consistency, and when even strictly consistent systems may lack full transactional semantics. As is usually the case with Gartner Magic Quadrants:
- I admire the raw research.
- The opinions contained are generally reasonable (especially since Merv Adrian joined the Gartner team).
- Some of the details are questionable.
- There’s generally an excessive focus on Gartner’s perception of vendors’ business skills, and on vendors’ willingness to parrot all the buzzphrases Gartner wants to hear.
- The trends Gartner highlights are similar to those I see, although our emphasis may be different, and they may leave some important ones out. (Big omission — support for lightweight analytics integrated into operational applications, one of the more genuine forms of real-time analytics.)
Anyhow: Read more
After Powersoft acquired Watcom and its famed Fortran compiler, marketing VP Tom Herring told me that the hidden jewel of the acquisition might well be a little DBMS, Watcom SQL. To put it mildly, Tom was right. Watcom SQL became SQL Anywhere; Powersoft was acquired by Sybase; Powersoft’s and Sybase’s main products both fell on hard times; Sybase built a whole mobile technology division around SQL Anywhere; and the whole thing just got sold for billions of dollars to SAP. Chris Kleisath recently briefed me on SQL Anywhere Version 12 (released to manufacturing this month), which seemed like a fine opportunity to catch up on prior developments as well.
The first two things to understand about SQL Anywhere is that there actually are three products:
- Sybase SQL Anywhere, a mid-range relational DBMS.
- Sybase UltraLite, a DBMS for mobile devices.
- Sybase MobiLink, a replication/sync tool.
and also that there are three main deployment/use cases:
- Generic desktop or server computers. This was the original market for SQL Anywhere.
- Laptop/handheld computers. This was the original growth market for SQL Anywhere. In particular, Siebel Systems’ first growth spurt was selling sales force automation software on laptop computers with SQL Anywhere underneath.
- Specialized devices. Earlier this decade, Sybase thought SQL Anywhere’s big growth market was on specialized devices. (I recall a video featuring some kind of automated pill dispensing machine for hospitals.)
While performance may not be all that great a source of CEP competitive differentiation, event processing vendors find plenty of other bases for technological competition, including application development, analytics, packaged applications, and data integration. In particular:
- Most independent CEP vendors have some kind of application story in the capital markets vertical, such as packaged applications, ISV partners with packaged applications, application frameworks, and so on.
- CEP vendors offer lots of connectors to specific financial industry price/quote/trade feeds, as well as the usual other kinds of database connectivity (SQL, XML, etc.)
- Aleri/Coral8 (separately and now together) like to call attention to their business intelligence/analytics offerings. Analytics is front-and-center on Truviso’s web site too, not that Truviso does much to call attention to itself, period. (Roman Bukary once said he’d outline Truviso’s new strategy to me in 6-8 weeks or so … it’s now 14 months and counting.)
So far as I can tell, the areas of applications and analytics are fairly uncontroversial. Different CEP vendors have implemented different kinds of things, no doubt focusing on those they thought they would find easiest to build and then sell. But these seem to be choices in business execution, not in core technical philosophy.
In CEP application development, however, real philosophical differences do seem to arise. There are at least three different CEP application development paradigms: Read more
|Categories: Aleri and Coral8, Business intelligence, Complex event processing (CEP), Microsoft and SQL*Server, Progress, Apama, and DataDirect, StreamBase||5 Comments|
I’ve been talking to CEP vendors on and off for a few years. So what I hear about performance is fairly patchwork. On the other hand, maybe 1-2+ year-old figures of per-core performance are still meaningful today. After all, Moore’s Law is being reflected more in core count than per-core performance, and it seems CEP vendors’ development efforts haven’t necessarily been concentrated on raw engine speed.
So anyway, what do you guys have to add to the following observations?
- Super-low-latency financial services industry tasks are often “embarrassingly parallel.” Thus, near-linear scale-out is common.
- That said, good parallelism seems fairly new in CEP engines (of course, CEP engines are fairly new themselves — for all I know, some have been parallel since inception).
- I’ve heard claims of up to 400,000 messages/second/core for simple queries or patterns.
- I’ve heard claims of 70,000 messages/core for not-so-simple queries or patterns, and probably higher than that depending on what the meaning of “simple” is.
- IBM just disclosed >15,000 messages/core on a pretty low-powered processor.
- I’ve heard that Coral8, Apama, and StreamBase rarely lost deals due to performance or throughput problems. I’ve heard that the same is not as true of Aleri.
- StreamBase proudly says it’s been fully multithreaded since academic research-project days. For Apama multithreading is evidently a more recent feature. But does it matter much?
|Categories: Aleri and Coral8, Complex event processing (CEP), IBM and DB2, Memory-centric data management, Progress, Apama, and DataDirect, StreamBase||13 Comments|
Independent CEP (Complex/Event Processing) vendors continue to flounder, at least outside the financial services and national intelligence markets.
- StreamBase once planned to conquer the world, making an impact as big as database management’s. Now it has retreated into niche markets.
- Progress Software, a decent-sized company, put a large fraction of its energy into Apama. Little has happened outside the financial service sector.
- Coral8 has some great-sounding ideas. But Coral8 now has merged into Aleri, basically a financial-markets specialist.
- Mike Franklin says some ambitious things on behalf of Truviso, but I haven’t noticed much traction there either.
CEP’s penetration outside of its classical markets isn’t quite zero. Customers include several transportation companies (various vendors), Sallie Mae (Coral8), a game vendor or two (StreamBase, if I recall correctly), Verizon (Aleri, I think), and more. But I just wrote that list from memory — based mainly on not-so-recent deals — and a quick tour of the vendors’ web sites hasn’t turned up much I overlooked. (Truviso does have a recent deal with Technorati, but that’s not exactly a blue chip customer these days.)
So far as I can tell, this is a new version of a repeated story. Read more
|Categories: Aleri and Coral8, Analytic technologies, Business intelligence, Complex event processing (CEP), Progress, Apama, and DataDirect, StreamBase, Truviso||11 Comments|
Dan Weinreb was one of the key techies at Object Design, the company that made the object-oriented database management system ObjectStore. (Object Design later merger into Excelon, which was eventually sold to Progress, which has deemphasized but still supports ObjectStore.) Recently he wrote a pair of long and fascinating articles* about Object Design, ObjectStore, and OODBMS, the first of which makes the case that “object-oriented database management systems succeeded.”
For very high-end applications, the list of viable database management systems is short. Scalability can be a problem. (The rankings of most scalable alternatives differ in the OLTP and data warehouse realms.) Extreme levels of security can be had from only a few DBMS. (Oracle would have you believe there’s only one choice.) And if you truly need 99.99% uptime, there only are a few DBMS you even should consider.
But for most applications at any enterprise – and for all applications at most enterprises – super high-end DBMS aren’t required. There are relatively few applications that wouldn’t run perfectly well on PostgreSQL or EnterpriseDB today. Ingres and Progress OpenEdge aren’t far behind (they’re a little lacking in datatype support). Ditto Intersystems Cache’, although the nonrelational architecture will be off-putting to many. And to varying degrees, you can also do fine with MySQL, Pervasive PSQL, MaxDB, or a variety of other products – or for that matter with the cheap or free crippled versions of Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, and Informix.
What’s more, these mid-range database management systems can have significant advantages over their high-end brethren. Read more
|Categories: Actian and Ingres, EnterpriseDB and Postgres Plus, IBM and DB2, Intersystems and Cache', Microsoft and SQL*Server, Mid-range, MySQL, Open source, Oracle, Pervasive Software, PostgreSQL, Progress, Apama, and DataDirect, SAP AG||17 Comments|