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Welcome to my BeyeNETWORK blog! Please join me often to share your thoughts and observations on new analytic platforms, BI and data management. I maintain a vendor-focused practice that uses primary research, briefings, case studies, events and other activities that stimulate ideas as a source for commentary on strategy and execution in the marketplace. I believe the emergence of a new class of analytic platforms, and emerging data management and advanced tools herald a next step in the maturity of information technology, and I'm excited to be present for its emergence. I hope my blog entries will stimulate ideas that will serve both the vendors creating these new solutions and the companies that will improve their business prospects as a result of applying them. Please share your thoughts and input on the topics.

 

 

Since my last post about Aster, the analytic DBMS (ADBMS) vendor has added another arrow to its quiver. While the company is still focused on large-scale data warehouses and companies who need more analytic power for advanced analytics/queries, its new MapReduce Data Warehouse Appliance Express Edition starts at $50,000, and includes Aster nCluster on Dell hardware and a copy of MicroStrategy BI software for up to 1 Tb of user data, which Aster clearly sees as a sweet spot.   (Microstrategy has been doing a lot of seeding with the ADBMSs lately; it also has  an introductory bundling deal with Sybase IQ.)  Delivering a 'compute rich' appliance on commodity hardware, with reduced operating costs, certainly hits all the right notes. Is 1 Tb  the sweet spot for MapReduce? No, although it makes a great starting point, and that is Aster's real opportunity - give 'em a taste of what SQL plus MapReduce can do, and watch them demand more and more. And sell it to them. Dell and MicroStrategy should love this strategy - if it works.

Even for those smaller data warehouses, speeds will be clearly improved. Lower first costs, ease of setup and administration - lowering both capital and operating expense - will lower the barriers to entry. $50K is a far cry from the half-million it can cost to get into other appliances from the "big boys."  Once the value is proved, stepping into Aster's Enterprise Edition, which it claims will scale to the petabyte range, may be easier to take.

Aster now has three ways to deliver nCluster software:

  1. software only
  2. the cloud (via Amazon and AppNexus)
  3. appliances 

This makes for a widely varying set of propositions to present to companies at very different points of entry, and should help broaden the opportunity base for Aster.There are certainly some questions:

  • What's the difference between a "data mart" and the "smaller data warehouse?"Aster quotes Gartner's Donald Feinberg about the latter in its press release.  Perhaps Aster is choosing to ignore the data mart moniker - although it's also possible that they are saying the improved generalized analytics of SQL plus MapReduce make it less necessary to restrict subjects and dimensions and follow specific architectural models the way many data marts typically do. If so, that will prove to be an interesting debate.
  • Are fault-tolerance and availability now "table stakes" for appliances? Aster is claiming "99.99% uptime, with reduced troubleshooting costs." ParAccel has touted its relationship with EMC for enterprise-class "-abilities." Other ADBMS vendors will need to keep up their features - and their rhetoric - here.
  • Is "SQL plus MapReduce" better enough to be a difference maker?Aster says that its "integrated SQL/MapReduce framework for analytics and BI increases query performance by 9x or more when compared with other SQL-only data warehouse appliances in the market." It has produced SQL/MR benchmarks vs standard SQL queries as part of a paper to be presented at the VLDB Conference in Lyon, France, later this Fall. The report is available here: http://www.asterdata.com/resources/downloads/whitepapers/sqlmr.pdf

Kudos to Aster for upping the heat, as well as shedding some light, in the emerging ADBMS wars. Aster opened a big door when it made MapReduce available to .NET, and no doubt some intriguing work will emerge from that community. Aster has a nice war chest to work with from its recent $17M Q1 financing round, and is putting it to work. So far the rhetoric has been aimed at Oracle, DB2, Teradata and Netezza. Easy targets. What about  Greenplum, Infobright, Kickfire, ParAccel, Sybase IQ, Vertica,...? It's going to be fun watching the smackdown ahead.


Posted July 21, 2009 10:06 AM
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