Analysis of SAP AG, and most especially its memory-centric BI Accelerator technology. Also covered are SAP’s overall database, connectivity, and analytics strategies. Related subjects include:
I’ll start with three observations:
- Computer systems can’t be entirely tightly coupled — nothing would ever get developed or tested.
- Computer systems can’t be entirely loosely coupled — nothing would ever get optimized, in performance and functionality alike.
- In an ongoing trend, there is and will be dramatic refactoring as to which connections wind up being loose or tight.
As written, that’s probably pretty obvious. Even so, it’s easy to forget just how pervasive the refactoring is and is likely to be. Let’s survey some examples first, and then speculate about consequences. Read more
- Cloudera changed CEOs last week. Tom Reilly, late of ArcSight, is the new guy (I don’t know him), while Mike Olson’s titles become Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer. Mike told me Friday that Reilly had secretly been working with him for months.
- Mike shared good-sounding numbers with me. But little is for public disclosure except the stat >400 employees.
- There are always rumors of infighting at Cloudera, perhaps because from earliest days Cloudera was a place where tempers are worn on sleeves. That said, Mike denied stories of problems between him and COO Kirk Dunn, and greatly praised Kirk’s successes at large-account sales.
- Cloudera now self-identifies pretty clearly as an analytic data management company. The vision is multiple execution engines – MapReduce, Impala, something more memory-centric, etc. – talking to any of a variety of HDFS file formats. While some formats may be optimized for specific engines – e.g. Parquet for Impala – anything can work with more or less anything.*
- Mike told me that Cloudera didn’t have any YARN users in production, but thought there would be some by year-end. Even so, he thinks it’s fair to say that Cloudera users have substantial portions of Hadoop 2 in production, for example NameNode failover and HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System) performance enhancements. Ditto HCatalog.
*Of course, there will always be exceptions. E.g., some formats can be updated on a short-request basis, while others can only be written to via batch conversions.
- There’s a widespread belief that Hortonworks is being shopped. Numerous folks – including me — believe the rumor of an Intel offer for $700 million. Higher figures and alternate buyers aren’t as widely believed.
- Views of MapR market traction, never high, are again on the downswing.
- IBM Big Insights seems to have some traction.
- In case there was any remaining doubt — DBMS vendors are pretty unanimous in agreeing that it makes sense to have Hadoop too. To my knowledge SAP hasn’t been as clear about showing a markitecture incorporating Hadoop as most of the others have … but then, SAP’s markitecture is generally less clear than other vendors’.
- Folks I talk with are generally wondering where and why Datameer lost its way. That still leaves Datameer ahead of other first-generation Hadoop add-on vendors (Karmasphere, Zettaset, et al.), in that I rarely hear them mentioned at all.
- I visited with my client Platfora. Things seem to be going very well.
- My former client Revelytix seems to have racked up some nice partnerships. (I had something to do with that. :))
|Categories: Cloudera, Data warehousing, Datameer, Hadoop, Hortonworks, IBM and DB2, Intel, MapR, Market share and customer counts, Platfora, SAP AG, Zettaset||11 Comments|
Perhaps the single toughest question in all database technology is: Which different purposes can a single data store serve well? — or to phrase it more technically — Which different usage patterns can a single data store support efficiently? Ted Codd was on multiple sides of that issue, first suggesting that relational DBMS could do everything and then averring they could not. Mike Stonebraker too has been on multiple sides, first introducing universal DBMS attempts with Postgres and Illustra/Informix, then more recently suggesting the world needs 9 or so kinds of database technology. As for me — well, I agreed with Mike both times.
Since this is MUCH too big a subject for a single blog post, what I’ll do in this one is simply race through some background material. To a first approximation, this whole discussion is mainly about data layouts — but only if we interpret that concept broadly enough to comprise:
- Every level of storage (disk, RAM, etc.).
- Indexes, aggregates and raw data alike.
To date, nobody has ever discovered a data layout that is efficient for all usage patterns. As a general rule, simpler data layouts are often faster to write, while fancier ones can boost query performance. Specific tradeoffs include, but hardly are limited to: Read more
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 calls Kognitio an “in-memory” DBMS, which is not accurate.
- Gartner doesn’t remark on Kognitio’s worst-in-class* compression.
- Gartner gives Kognitio oddly high marks for a late, me-too Hadoop integration strategy.
- Gartner writes as if Kognitio’s next attempt at the US market will be the first one, which is not the case.
- Gartner says that Kognitio pioneered data warehouse SaaS (Software as a Service), which actually has existed since the pre-relational 1970s.
Gartner is correct, however, to note that Kognitio doesn’t sell much stuff overall.
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
Analyzing companies of any size is hard. Analyzing large ones, however, is harder yet.
- I get (much) less substance in an hour on the phone with a megacorp than I do when I talk with a smaller company.
- What large companies say is less reliable than what I hear from smaller ones.
- Large companies have policies, procedures, bureaucracy and attitudes that get in the way of communicating in the first place.
Such limitations should be borne in mind in connection with anything I write about, for example, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, or SAP.
There are many reasons for large companies to communicate less usefully with analysts than smaller ones do. Some of the biggest are:
- For reasons of internal information flow, the people I talk with just know less than their counterparts at smaller companies. Similarly, what they do “know” is more often wrong, since different parts of the same company may not hold identical views.
- That’s when we talk about real issues at all, which can get crowded out by large companies’ voluminous efforts in complex positioning, messaging, and product names.
- Huge companies have huge bureaucracies, and they hurt.
- A small company C-level executive can make smart decisions about what to say or not say. A large company minion doesn’t have the same freedom.
- Just the process of getting access to even a mid-level spokesminion at a large company is harder than reaching a senior person at a smaller outfit.
- Large firms are clearest when communicating with their existing customers and those organizations’ key influencers. They’re less effective or clear when opening themselves up to competitive comparisons.
- If a company wants to behave unethically in its analyst dealings, there are economies of scale to doing so.
|Categories: About this blog, IBM and DB2, Microsoft and SQL*Server, Oracle, SAP AG, Sybase||6 Comments|
What are the central challenges in internet system design? We probably all have similar lists, comprising issues such as scale, scale-out, throughput, availability, security, programming ease, UI, or general cost-effectiveness. Screw those up, and you don’t have an internet business.
Much new technology addresses those challenges, with considerable success. But the success is usually one silo at a time — a short-request application here, an analytic database there. When it comes to integration, unsolved problems abound.
The top integration and integration-like challenges for me, from a practical standpoint, are:
- Integrating silos — a decades-old problem still with us in a big way.
- Dynamic schemas with joins.
- Low-latency business intelligence.
- Human real-time personalization.
Other concerns that get mentioned include:
- Geographical distribution due to privacy laws, which for some users is a major requirement for compliance.
- Logical data warehouse, a term that doesn’t actually mean anything real.
- In-memory data grids, which some day may no longer always be hand-coupled to the application and data stacks they accelerate.
Let’s skip those latter issues for now, focusing instead on the first four.
I’m frequently asked to generalize in some way about in-memory or memory-centric data management. I can start:
- The desire for human real-time interactive response naturally leads to keeping data in RAM.
- Many databases will be ever cheaper to put into RAM over time, thanks to Moore’s Law. (Most) traditional databases will eventually wind up in RAM.
- However, there will be exceptions, mainly on the machine-generated side. Where data creation and RAM data storage are getting cheaper at similar rates … well, the overall cost of RAM storage may not significantly decline.
Getting more specific than that is hard, however, because:
- The possibilities for in-memory data storage are as numerous and varied as those for disk.
- The individual technologies and products for in-memory storage are much less mature than those for disk.
- Solid-state options such as flash just confuse things further.
Consider, for example, some of the in-memory data management ideas kicking around. Read more
Various reporters have asked me about Oracle’s third quarter 2012 earnings conference call. Specific Q&A includes:
What did Oracle do to have its earnings beat Wall Street’s estimates?
Have a bad second quarter and then set Wall Street’s expectations too low for Q3. This isn’t about strong results; it’s about modest expectations.
Can Oracle be a leader in both hardware and software?
- It’s not inconceivable.
- The observation that Oracle, IBM, and Teradata all are pushing hardware-software combinations has been intriguing ever since IBM bought Netezza. (SAP really isn’t, however; ditto Microsoft.)
- I do think Oracle may be somewhat overoptimistic as to how cooperative the Sun user base will be in buying more high-end product and in paying more in maintenance for the gear they already have.
Beyond that, please see below.
What about Oracle in the cloud?
MySQL is an important cloud supplier. But Oracle overall hasn’t demonstrated much understanding of what cloud technology and business are all about. An expensive SaaS acquisition here or there could indeed help somewhat, but it seems as if Oracle still has a very long way to go.
|Categories: Cloud computing, Exadata, Humor, In-memory DBMS, Oracle, SAP AG, Software as a Service (SaaS)||5 Comments|
SAP HANA has gotten much attention, mainly for its potential. I finally got briefed on HANA a few weeks ago. While we didn’t have time for all that much detail, it still might be interesting to talk about where SAP HANA stands today.
SAP HANA is positioned as an “appliance”. So far as I can tell, that really means it’s a software product for which there are a variety of emphatically-recommended hardware configurations — Intel-only, from what right now are eight usual-suspect hardware partners. Anyhow, the core of SAP HANA is an in-memory DBMS. Particulars include:
- Mainly, HANA is an in-memory columnar DBMS, based on SAP’s confusingly-renamed BI Accelerator/BW Accelerator. Analytics and most OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) go against the columnar part of HANA.
- The HANA DBMS also has an in-memory row storage option, used to store metadata, small tables, and so on.
- SAP HANA talks both SQL and MDX.
- The HANA DBMS is shared-nothing across blades or rack servers. I imagine that within an individual blade it’s shared everything. The usual-suspect data distribution or partitioning strategies are available — hash, range, round-robin.
- SAP HANA has what sounds like a natural disk-based persistence strategy — logs, snapshots, and so on. SAP says that this is synchronous enough to give ACID compliance. For some hardware partners, those “disks” are actually Fusion I/O cards.
- HANA is fault-tolerant “across servers”.
- Text support is “coming soon”, which makes sense, given that BI Accelerator was based on the TREX search engine in the first place. Inxight is also in the HANA text mix.
- You can put data into SAP HANA in a variety of obvious ways:
- Writing it directly.
- Trigger-based replication (perhaps from the DBMS that runs your SAP apps).
- Log-based replication (based on Sybase Replication Server).
- SAP Business Objects’ ETL tool.
SAP says that the row-store part is based both on P*Time, an acquisition from Korea some time ago, and also on SAP’s own MaxDB. The IBM white paper mentions only the MaxDB aspect. (Edit: Actually, see the comment thread below.) Based on a variety of clues, I conjecture that this was an aspect of SAP HANA development that did not go entirely smoothly.
Other SAP HANA components include: Read more
The 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms — company-by-company comments
This is one of a series of posts on business intelligence and related analytic technology subjects, keying off the 2011/2012 version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. The four posts in the series cover:
- Overview comments about the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, as well as a link to the actual document.
- Business intelligence industry trends — some of Gartner’s thoughts but mainly my own.
- (This post) Company-by-company comments based on the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms.
- Third-party analytics, pulling together and expanding on some points I made in the first three posts.
The heart of Gartner Group’s 2011/2012 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms was the company comments. I shall expound upon some, roughly in declining order of Gartner’s “Completeness of Vision” scores, dubious though those rankings may be. Read more
|Categories: Business intelligence, Business Objects, Cognos, IBM and DB2, Information Builders, Jaspersoft, MicroStrategy, Open source, Oracle, Pentaho, QlikTech and QlikView, SAP AG, SAS Institute, Tableau Software||5 Comments|