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Dan Linstedt

Bill Inmon has given me this wonderful opportunity to blog on his behalf. I like to cover everything from DW2.0 to integration to data modeling, including ETL/ELT, SOA, Master Data Management, Unstructured Data, DW and BI. Currently I am working on ways to create dynamic data warehouses, push-button architectures, and automated generation of common data models. You can find me at Denver University where I participate on an academic advisory board for Masters Students in I.T. I can't wait to hear from you in the comments of my blog entries. Thank-you, and all the best; Dan Linstedt http://www.COBICC.com, danL@danLinstedt.com

About the author >

Cofounder of Genesee Academy, RapidACE, and BetterDataModel.com, Daniel Linstedt is an internationally known expert in data warehousing, business intelligence, analytics, very large data warehousing (VLDW), OLTP and performance and tuning. He has been the lead technical architect on enterprise-wide data warehouse projects and refinements for many Fortune 500 companies. Linstedt is an instructor of The Data Warehousing Institute and a featured speaker at industry events. He is a Certified DW2.0 Architect. He has worked with companies including: IBM, Informatica, Ipedo, X-Aware, Netezza, Microsoft, Oracle, Silver Creek Systems, and Teradata.  He is trained in SEI / CMMi Level 5, and is the inventor of The Matrix Methodology, and the Data Vault Data modeling architecture. He has built expert training courses, and trained hundreds of industry professionals, and is the voice of Bill Inmons' Blog on http://www.b-eye-network.com/blogs/linstedt/.

I've recently been sharing my experiences with Appliances, and where I think the market will be going. I've gotten some great feedback from a few of you out there (thank-you kindly). In this entry I will explore the notion of what might make an appliance fizzle out, and what might make an appliance continue to be useful moving forward. We will play with the notions of open appliances versus closed appliances, what it means, and where it goes - along with the notions of just what software might be good for or not good for shipping on a hardware basis.

First, my apologies for not blogging for a little while, I've been very busy lately. On that note, let's talk appliances.

Some of the comments I've received take the notion of two classes of appliance: open appliance and closed appliance. The comments were directed at the notion that a closed appliance might live a short-life going forward, and that an open appliance (by its very definition) would live a lot longer.

Let's define Open and Closed appliance: (in my opinion)
Open Appliance: an appliance that allows software to be upgraded, tweaks to be made to the hardware components, hot-swap hardware components, hot swap software components, upgradeable software (in place), and of course semi-configurable software/hardware configurations.

In other words, an Open Appliance allows the user / administrator to partially configure, change settings, and somewhat manage the system, and its applications. However, by definition of appliance, some of the software resides on a hard-card, and most of it is still locked in to plug-and-play mode. Imagine if web-services were defined at the hardware BUS level, and their existed software on the motherboard that could detect the web-services, read the metadata, and understand (with some minimal configuration help) how to talk to the new “hardware card”. Maybe the hardware card is a plug-and-play ETL component to take advantage of performance binding, and on-board RAM caches.

A Closed Appliance is similar to an electronic advertising kiosk, running the same display over and over again. In other words, a closed appliance does not allow configuration (except maybe hardware settings, and IP configuration). A Closed Appliance is more black-box, self-contained…

If we take a look at these definitions, there are different applications for each of these types of appliances, and different pros and cons that we can imagine might be a part of this world.

For instance: Open Appliances
* Minimal to Advanced Configuration
* Dynamic upgrade of components
* Some software is not bound tightly to hardware cards
* Some Hardware cards can be more “generic”
* Can be cheaper to purchase / manufacture
* Can be configured in a shopping cart style.

* Requires learning curve, knowledge to configure
* Requires an understanding of what software is compatible with which hardware.
* Does not necessarily provide the optimal performance gains.
* Requires multiple vendors to follow the same standards

Closed Appliances:
* Can be architected for maximum throughput
* Can be true plug & play with extremely minimal configuration
* Can be created to self-load balance
* Can be extremely low-cost (compared to equivalent horse-power on an Open system)
* Very low learning curve
* Upgrades to “replaceable hardware” can improve performance, 3x, 4x, 10x and so on…

* Minimal or No configuration, means it will be purpose-driven
* Built to execute specific tasks.
* Hardware and Software are tightly coupled.
* Upgrades to “hard-cards” where software reside can be painful sometimes.
* Usually cannot serve multiple purposes, unless it’s a VIRTUAL HOSTING appliance.

These are just a few thoughts on open and closed appliances, do not confuse these with World-Class versus standard off-the-shelf appliances that I’ve defined earlier in my blog entries.

I’d love to hear from you on what you think Open or Closed appliances are, and why they might or might not be useful.

Thank-you very much,
Daniel Linstedt

Posted March 1, 2007 8:03 PM
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