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:

1.  Kognitio has built a lot of its marketing around database SaaS, which it calls DaaS for data-as-a-service, and runs primarily from its own facility.  On a small sample size, it reports a very roughly 50-50 split in new business activity (that’s customers/prospects, not revenue) between DaaS and conventionally licensed software.

2.  Vertica has expressed high hopes for its Amazon cloud offering. Actual production usage has so far only matched part of that, but it isn’t exactly zero either. Specifically, marketing chief Dave Menninger writes by email:

In addition to approximately a dozen POCs running on the cloud at any point in time we have five customers using the cloud on a regular basis. Three of these customers do short lived projects so they start up instances, run them for the duration of a project, and shut them down. They are three different types of orgs: govt agency, pharma consulting org and SaaS provider.

Two financial services companies use the cloud as spare resource/capacity.  When they need additional computing resource or capacity they will temporarily move some projects onto the cloud with the anticipation of moving them back off once the capacity constraint is relieved (new hardware arrives, other projects or systems come to an end, etc.

3.  1010data offers its data warehousing product by remote service only.  However, unlike Gartner I’m not totally convinced 1010data should be regarded as comparable to DBMS vendors; perhaps it’s more like a SaaS business intelligence provider.



9 Responses to “Database SaaS gains a little visibility”

  1. Larry Dooley on January 13th, 2009 10:06 am

    You forgot Gerry wrote Nomad as well for NCSS. Difference between Nomad and Ramis/FOCUS was that Nomad didn’t have up pointers.

    Showing my age.

  2. Curt Monash on January 13th, 2009 12:37 pm

    Geez. I haven’t heard the name “Nomad” in a loooong time.

    I didn’t actually get involved with the software industry until 1981. What I know of the 1970s has always been just history.

    Anyhow, I’m pretty sure I met Gerry at an ADAPSO conference in Manhattan in December, 2001, introduced by Marty Goetz of ADR. I was much younger then …

  3. Greg Munves on January 13th, 2009 7:09 pm

    Curt, I’d agree with you on your point about 1010data being more of a Saas BI Service rather than a drop in data warehouse. While our proprietary database technology enables us, its not really what we are selling. Our end users are focused on doing analysis that drives their business, not data warehousing.

  4. Larry Dooley on January 15th, 2009 4:28 pm

    I meet Gerry in 1978 when there were 7 people in IBI and you’d go in and see either Gerry or Peter and ask for a feature and they’d say. ‘Next Thursday OK’.

    My company uses WebFOCUS and services thousands of online users (actually 80,000 plus). It just scales.

    Not sexy but it works like a champ.

  5. Larry Dooley on January 16th, 2009 4:08 pm

    No Gerry wrote Nomad then Ramis and then FOCUS

  6. Sandy Weller on February 4th, 2010 2:33 pm

    Actually, Gerry worked at NCSS on RAMIS, then the SUM441(NOMAD) project and then FOCUS.

    Bottom line is the products – FOCUS and NOMAD – are very similar. Sadly, NOMAD was treated badly in the 80’s and suffers even today.

    NCSS employee in 1979. NOMAD and FOCUS contractor since 1989.

  7. Historical notes on analytics — terminology | Software Memories on January 17th, 2012 3:02 am

    […] examples of such 4GLs included FOCUS (the core product of Information Builders), RAMIS, and NOMAD; SAS arguably started out as a product of that kind too. Starting in the 1980s, however, 4GLs were […]

  8. Software delivery and pricing — the first 55 years | Software Memories on November 17th, 2013 10:35 pm

    […] Gerry Cohen’s various ventures in analytic software. […]

  9. BI and quasi-DBMS | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on January 17th, 2016 5:16 pm

    […] 1970s analytic fourth-generation languages (RAMIS, NOMAD, FOCUS, et al.) commonly combined reporting and data […]

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