Schooner Information Technology
Analysis and discussion of Schooner Information Technology and the Schooner appliances.
I talked Friday with Deep Information Sciences, makers of DeepDB. Much like TokuDB — albeit with different technical strategies — DeepDB is a single-server DBMS in the form of a MySQL engine, whose technology is concentrated around writing indexes quickly. That said:
- DeepDB’s indexes can help you with analytic queries; hence, DeepDB is marketed as supporting OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) and analytics in the same system.
- DeepDB is marketed as “designed for big data and the cloud”, with reference to “Volume, Velocity, and Variety”. What I could discern in support of that is mainly:
- DeepDB has been tested at up to 3 terabytes at customer sites and up to 1 billion rows internally.
- Like most other NewSQL and NoSQL DBMS, DeepDB is append-only, and hence could be said to “stream” data to disk.
- DeepDB’s indexes could at some point in the future be made to work well with non-tabular data.*
- The Deep guys have plans and designs for scale-out — transparent sharding and so on.
*For reasons that do not seem closely related to product reality, DeepDB is marketed as if it supports “unstructured” data today.
Other NewSQL DBMS seem “designed for big data and the cloud” to at least the same extent DeepDB is. However, if we’re interpreting “big data” to include multi-structured data support — well, only half or so of the NewSQL products and companies I know of share Deep’s interest in branching out. In particular:
- Akiban definitely does. (Note: Stay tuned for some next-steps company news about Akiban.)
- Tokutek has planted a small stake there too.
- Key-value-store-backed NuoDB and GenieDB probably leans that way. (And SanDisk evidently shut down Schooner’s RDBMS while keeping its key-value store.)
- VoltDB, Clustrix, ScaleDB and MemSQL seem more strictly tabular, except insofar as text search is a requirement for everybody. (Edit: Oops; I forgot about Clustrix’s approach to JSON support.)
Edit: MySQL has some sort of an optional NoSQL interface, and hence so presumably do MySQL-compatible TokuDB, GenieDB, Clustrix, and MemSQL.
Also, some of those products do not today have the transparent scale-out that Deep plans to offer in the future.
1. It boggles my mind that some database technology companies still don’t view compression as a major issue. Compression directly affects storage and bandwidth usage alike — for all kinds of storage (potentially including RAM) and for all kinds of bandwidth (network, I/O, and potentially on-server).
Trading off less-than-maximal compression so as to minimize CPU impact can make sense. Having no compression at all, however, is an admission of defeat.
2. People tend to misjudge Hadoop’s development pace in either of two directions. An overly expansive view is to note that some people working on Hadoop are trying to make it be all things for all people, and to somehow imagine those goals will soon be achieved. An overly narrow view is to note an important missing feature in Hadoop, and think there’s a big business to be made out of offering it alone.
At this point, I’d guess that Cloudera and Hortonworks have 500ish employees combined, many of whom are engineers. That allows for a low double-digit number of 5+ person engineering teams, along with a number of smaller projects. The most urgently needed features are indeed being built. On the other hand, a complete monument to computing will not soon emerge.
3. Schooner’s acquisition by SanDisk has led to the discontinuation of Schooner’s SQL DBMS SchoonerSQL. Schooner’s flash-optimized key-value store Membrain continues. I don’t have details, but the Membrain web page suggests both data store and cache use cases.
4. There’s considerable personnel movement at Boston-area database technology companies right now. Please ping me directly if you care.
I plan to write about several NewSQL vendors soon, but first here’s an overview post. Like “NoSQL”, the term “NewSQL” has an identifiable, recent coiner — Matt Aslett in 2011 — yet a somewhat fluid meaning. Wikipedia suggests that NewSQL comprises three things:
- OLTP- (OnLine Transaction Processing)/short-request-oriented SQL DBMS that are newer than MySQL.
- Innovative MySQL engines.
- Transparent sharding systems that can be used with, for example, MySQL.
I think that’s a pretty good working definition, and will likely remain one unless or until:
- SQL-oriented and NoSQL-oriented systems blur indistinguishably.
- MySQL (or PostgreSQL) laps the field with innovative features.
To date, NewSQL adoption has been limited.
- NewSQL vendors I’ve written about in the past include Akiban, Tokutek, CodeFutures (dbShards), Clustrix, Schooner (Membrain), VoltDB, ScaleBase, and ScaleDB, with GenieDB and NuoDB coming soon.
- But I’m dubious whether, even taken together, all those vendors have as many customers or production references as any of 10gen, Couchbase, DataStax, or Cloudant.*
That said, the problem may lie more on the supply side than in demand. Developing a competitive SQL DBMS turns out to be harder than developing something in the NoSQL state of the art.
SanDisk has acquired my client Schooner Information Technology. Notes on that include:
- Schooner used to be a flash-based appliance company.
- Then Schooner pivoted to be a database software company with strong flash expertise.
- Then Schooner pivoted further to emphasize general modern OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) clustered goodness.
- SanDisk makes flash memory. That’s the fit.
- Specifically, Schooner is being put in the division that grew out of the acquisition of Pliant, which makes solid-state disks for database applications, and gets rave reviews from Teradata.
- Schooner had a few dozen customers, but not a lot of evident traction. Hence, I would imagine, the acquisition.
That’s about all I have at this time.
|Categories: Market share and customer counts, Schooner Information Technology, Solid-state memory||3 Comments|
- This is a list of Monash Advantage members.
- All our vendor clients are Monash Advantage members, unless …
- … we work with them primarily in their capacity as technology users. (A large fraction of our user clients happen to be SaaS vendors.)
- We do not usually disclose our user clients.
- We do not usually disclose our venture capital clients, nor those who invest in publicly-traded securities.
- Excluded from this round of disclosure is one vendor I have never written about.
- Included in this round of disclosure is one client paying for services partly in stock. All our other clients are cash-only.
For reasons explained below, I’ll group the clients geographically. Obviously, companies often have multiple locations, but this is approximately how it works from the standpoint of their interactions with me. Read more
There’s a perception that, if you want (relatively) worry-free database scale-out, you need a non-relational/NoSQL strategy. That perception is false. In the analytic case it’s completely ridiculous, as has been demonstrated by Teradata, Vertica, Netezza, and various other MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) analytic DBMS vendors. And now it’s false for short-request/OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) use cases as well.
My favorite relational OLTP scale-out choice these days is the SchoonerSQL/dbShards partnership. Schooner Information Technology (SchoonerSQL) and Code Futures (dbShards) are young, small companies, but I’m not too concerned about that, because the APIs they want you to write to are just MySQL’s. The main scenarios in which I can see them failing are ones in which they are competitively leapfrogged, either by other small competitors – e.g. ScaleBase, Akiban, TokuDB, or ScaleDB — or by Oracle/MySQL itself. While that could suck for my clients Schooner and Code Futures, it would still provide users relying on MySQL scale-out with one or more good product alternatives.
Relying on non-MySQL NewSQL startups, by way of contrast, would leave me somewhat more concerned. (However, if their code is open sourced. you have at least some vendor-failure protection.) And big-vendor scale-out offerings, such as Oracle RAC or DB2 pureScale, may be more complex to deploy and administer than the MySQL and NewSQL alternatives.
|Categories: Clustering, dbShards and CodeFutures, IBM and DB2, MySQL, NewSQL, NoSQL, OLTP, Open source, Oracle, Parallelization, Schooner Information Technology, Transparent sharding||2 Comments|
Schooner Information Technology started out as a complete-system MySQL appliance vendor. Then Schooner went software-only, but continued to brag about great performance in configurations with solid-state drives. Now Schooner has pivoted further, and is emphasizing high availability, clustered performance, and other hardware-agnostic OLTP (OnLine Transaction Processing) features. Fortunately, Schooner has some interesting stuff in those areas to talk about.
The short form of the SchoonerSQL (as Schooner’s product is now called) story goes roughly like this:
- SchoonerSQL replicates data — synchronously if the replication target is local, asynchronously if it is remote.
- Local synchronous replication provides high availability; remote asynchronous replication provides disaster recovery.
- SchoonerSQL’s local synchronous replication also provides read scale-out.
- Schooner has a partnership with Code Futures/dbShards to provide write scale-out via transparent sharding.
- SchoonerSQL has some secret sauce in replication performance. This has the effect of significantly increasing write performance (assuming you were going to replicate anyway), because otherwise you might have to slow down the master server’s write performance so that the slaves can keep up with it.
- Schooner believes it still has some single-server performance advantages as well.
|Categories: Clustering, dbShards and CodeFutures, MySQL, OLTP, Oracle, Parallelization, Schooner Information Technology||3 Comments|
A reporter tweeted: “Is there a simple plain English definition for NoSQL?” After reminding him of my cynical yet accurate Third Law of Commercial Semantics, I gave it a serious try, and came up with the following. More precisely, I tweeted the bolded parts of what’s below; the rest is commentary added for this post.
NoSQL is most easily defined by what it excludes: SQL, joins, strong analytic alternatives to those, and some forms of database integrity. If you leave all four out, and you have a strong scale-out story, you’re in the NoSQL mainstream. Read more
|Categories: Cassandra, dbShards and CodeFutures, MarkLogic, MySQL, Object, Open source, Petabyte-scale data management, Schooner Information Technology||7 Comments|
Alex Williams noticed that there will be a NoSQL session at Oracle OpenWorld next week, and is wondering whether this will be a big deal. I think it won’t be.
There really are three major points to NoSQL.
- Dynamic schemas. This is the only one of the three that truly depends on NoSQL.
- Scale-out short-request processing. If you want to scale out efficiently at high request volumes, you’re best off not using all the flexibility SQL/relational DBMS offer. (In particular, you don’t want to do cross-node joins). Not coincidentally, a number of the best scale-out offerings were built to be NoSQL.
- Open source. Doing a relational DBMS is a big project. It seems easier to build NoSQL ones.
Oracle can address the latter two points as aggressively as it wishes via MySQL. It so happens I would generally recommend MySQL enhanced by dbShards, Schooner, and/or dbShards/Schooner, rather than Oracle-only MySQL … but that’s a detail. In some form or other, Oracle’s MySQL is a huge player in the scale-out, open source, short-request database management market.
So that leaves us with dynamic schemas. Oracle has at least four different sets of technology in that area:
- As Workday noticed years ago, MySQL can be used as a functional, basic key-value store.
- Oracle also has XML-based Berkeley DB/SleepyCat kicking around.*
- The XML extensions to Oracle’s core DBMS could be alleged to have a dynamic schema/NoSQL flavor. (Blech.)
- A dynamic schema argument could also be made for object-oriented DBMS technology. While Oracle doesn’t to my knowledge exactly sell that, it does have the Tangosol Coherence line of technology, with a potentially similar programming model.
If Oracle is now refreshing and rebranding one or more of these as “NoSQL”, there’s no reason to view that as a big deal at all.
*That’s Mike Olson’s former company, if you’re keeping score at home.
|Categories: MySQL, NoSQL, Object, OLTP, Open source, Oracle, Parallelization, Schooner Information Technology, Structured documents||13 Comments|
As a follow-up to the latest Stonebraker kerfuffle, Derrick Harris asked me a bunch of smart followup questions. My responses and afterthoughts include:
- Facebook et al. are in effect Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors, not enterprise technology users. In particular:
- They have the technical chops to rewrite their code as needed.
- Unlike packaged software vendors, they’re not answerable to anybody for keeping legacy code alive after a rewrite. That makes migration a lot easier.
- If they want to write different parts of their system on different technical underpinnings, nobody can stop them. For example …
- … Facebook innovated Cassandra, and is now heavily committed to HBase.
- It makes little sense to talk of Facebook’s use of “MySQL.” Better to talk of Facebook’s use of “MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding.” That said:
- It’s hard to see why somebody today would use MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding for a new project. At least one of Couchbase or transparently-sharded MySQL is very likely a superior alternative. Other alternatives might be better yet.
- As noted above in the example of Facebook, the many major web businesses that are using MySQL + memcached + non-transparent sharding for existing projects can be presumed able to migrate away from that stack as the need arises.
Continuing with that discussion of DBMS alternatives:
- If you just want to write to the memcached API anyway, why not go with Couchbase?
- If you want to go relational, why not go with MySQL? There are many alternatives for scaling or accelerating MySQL — dbShards, Schooner, Akiban, Tokutek, ScaleBase, ScaleDB, Clustrix, and Xeround come to mind quickly, so there’s a great chance that one or more will fit your use case. (And if you don’t get the choice of MySQL flavor right the first time, porting to another one shouldn’t be all THAT awful.)
- If you really, really want to go in-memory, and don’t mind writing Java stored procedures, and don’t need to do the kinds of joins it isn’t good at, but do need to do the kinds of joins it is, VoltDB could indeed be a good alternative.
And while we’re at it — going schema-free often makes a whole lot of sense. I need to write much more about the point, but for now let’s just say that I look favorably on the Big Four schema-free/NoSQL options of MongoDB, Couchbase, HBase, and Cassandra.