I've blogged several times about how appliances are arriving on the scene, and how eventually (I believe) will hold a place as an EDW - appliance. Appliances are making forays into many areas of OLTP and data capture which is the first step on this journey to creating an "appliance based warehouse." In one of my posts I went so far as to state that I believe the future of warehousing rests squarely in the appliance hands, and of course - not everyone agrees (which is fine).
In this entry I'll take a look at the reasons why I believe appliances will be the EDW of the future, and why they will contain all the software elements we take for granted today. Of course the nature and definition of EDW is shifting as we speak, and tomorrow it won't just be your parents warehouse anymore.
Tons of headlines in this media magazine indicate the rise of appliance based devices:
"Smartphones get Smarter"
"Top selling hardware products are Networking Devices"
"Symantec rolls out small-biz mail appliance"
"3COM: v6000 supports VCX call control, call center, IP messaging software"
There is no question that appliances are becoming attractive because of the price/performance and functionality they contain. These appliances are increasing the competitive nature of the OLTP and data capture market. They do more and more processing within the appliance, and of course they've added storage, business rules, monitoring capabilities and API or service based accessibility. When it comes to getting the whole package today, an appliance just seems right - as long as you can find one for your specific business need.
When it comes to warehousing today, the appliances are in their infancy. That doesn't mean (however) that they can't or won't grow up. What I mean is today, we've got vendors like DatAllegro, and Netezza, and a few others who play in the partial-appliance-for-data-warehousing-world. They've got a firm grasp of the notions that RDBMS integrated with hardware is the definite means to scale, and address performance problems. They've added self-tuning hardware (software on hardware), they've integrated Operating Systems, and firmware, and they've begun to tackle the load/unload issues of large data sets in parallel with partitioning.
There is reason to advance these appliances and add more features like: Transformation engines, GUI development, monitoring, maintenance, and on-board data mining capabilities, BI capabilities, and cube building systems. It just makes sense from an offering perspective for these hardware builders to team up with the software industry and bury the software into the device - producing a PLUG AND PLAY WAREHOUSE capable of saving cost, reducing installation and maintenance time, and increasing productivity. Yes, there are a lot of bridges to cross with this type of approach, because the device must scale to large business, it must also meet the needs of SMB's - thatâ€™s where volume sales make up the majority of the profits (especially with reduced pricing).
Imagine, if one simple feature such as ETL were built into the hardware device we'd have an easier time of establishing plug and play components. Teradata is beginning to do this, and Microsoft SQLServer 2005 with it's SSIS has started to do this, in fact these vendors have optimized their ETL / ELT mechanisms to work with their RDBMS natively on their platform. While they may not be "best of breed" per-say, they will certainly make a dent in the market place, particularly when bundled together with the hardware, and the RDBMS engine.
In order to stay competitive, larger vendors of BI, data mining, metadata management, ETL/ELT, EII and EAI would be wise to begin partnering with the appliance vendors, and possibly jumping on board to provide bundled solutions.
An Exabyte ad in CRN shows this to be interesting and plausible: "VXA-320 PacketLoader 1x10 1U. With a reasonable price tag, small and midsize businesses can take full advantage of the device... able to combine the 1U hardware device with almost any third-party backup software... is an attractive option".
It may be that service oriented appliances are the next wave, but who wants to run around and try to "integrate" all these disparate software programs with separate hardware and RDBMS and storage systems? The pendulum has begun to swing back to consolidation.
Posted January 24, 2006 7:25 AM
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