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Thank you for visiting my blog. I am a Cofounder & Technical Advisor here at the BeyeNETWORK. Having covered the business intelligence and data warehousing industry for more than 15 years, I'm looking forward to a more interactive form of communication with all of you. Please share your comments and thoughts!



What would happen in the data warehouse appliance space if a new player entered the market and offered a solution for as low as $15,000 per terabyte? Looks like we are going to find out!

Sun Microsystems and Greenplum have launched an appliance that uses the high data throughput and storage density of the Sun Fire X4500 server with Opteron processors and Greenplum's Scale-Everything™ parallel database. The system is powered by Solaris(tm) 10 operating system and PostgreSQL.

I've watched the data warehouse appliance space with a lot of interest over the past couple years. Todays news will certainly impact Netezza and Datallegro the present leaders in the space but I can't help wonder what the folks at Teradata are thinking about another company getting into this space. Also, it seems that Sun and Greenplum have beaten the team at HP to the market as well. There have been a ton of rumors circulating as to weather Mark Hurd and team might enter the appliance market in a bid to take market share from his old company and others.

Sun could really make an interesting play in the space with this solution, they are addressing several areas all at once.

  • Positioning as a low cost leader
  • Bring non-commodity hardware into the picture
  • leveraging open source to a high level
  • highly efficient hardware designed to save energy (90 watt per Terabyte)
  • A huge national sales force

I think the last interesting part of this news is the focus of Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, I have been told that this project was brokered by Jonathan and Greenplum CEO Scott Yara directly. It seems to me that with this level of endorsement the focus on this project will be highly coordinated at both Sun and Greenplum. The impact of a company the size of Sun on this market won't go unnoticed. Sun hopes to announce its first customer in the coming weeks, a 100 terabyte installation is in the works.

I am interested in hearing your take on the topic, please post comments on this one.

Other links:
Jonathan Swartz's Blog - comments on Greenplum July 10th 2006
Past post from me on Greenplum

Technorati Tags: Sun Microsystems, Greenplum, b-eye-network.com, data warehouse appliance, business intelligence, data warehouse

Posted July 26, 2006 6:02 AM
Permalink | 7 Comments |


Looks like Sun might be heading in the right direction. The are posting heavy losses for the 4th qtr but according to what I read sales are up almost 30%. We've been looking at appliances for our company and I have to say that if Sun can deliver at this price point it might be a good way to go.

I'd like to hear what Netezza and Datallegro have to say about such a large company getting into their playground?

I think Sun is heading in the right direction and I'm really hoping this ambitious launch by Sun/Greenplum picks up some huge momentum. At the moment, I don't think anyone can match them for price/GB, ease of use and performance all in one box. If you're a Solaris admin, there's nothing new to learn here except ZFS, and that's a walk in the park when compared to other offerings.

There's some good money to be made in the appliance market, especially for someone like Sun who's got a reputation for good customer support. All it needs is someone to experience bad support from any of the other players and they'll be looking at Sun.

If I were a Teradata sales rep, I'd be calling Greenplum right now for a job - from what I can see on price, they're going to be a factor of 100 (yes, 100) cheaper... I guess Solaris has some real legs...

I think the really cool thing here is that Sun might actually be getting back in the game. Perhaps its time to let innovation drive the company instead of layoffs. I say go Jonathan go!! Has anyone heard reaction from the above named companies? Teradata and Netezza can't be happy about this.

There's a pretty big problem with ths appliance claim. If you read the specs you need to spend $263K list to get the TB/second scan rate. If you don't trust my number the full analysis is on my blog. You have to watch the marketeers - they mixed a performance claim with a capacity claim, resulting in a misleading message about price/performance.
Link to calculations: http://clickstream.blogspot.com/

I'm always a little wary responding to posts about competitors, but since there were a few requests...

Recent moves by Sun and IBM (and the rumored one by HP) are all serving to grow the DW appliance opportunity. At the same time, these are large, powerful vendors. So, it's a double-edged sword from our point of view. However, we've been very successful in winning deals recently against IBM etc., so I can't say I'm too worried.

While we haven't seen the Sun/Greenplum offering competitively yet, I find their claims hard to believe. Pricing is only slightly lower than ours and we ship a lot more CPU and disk bandwidth for a given capacity. It would therefore be 'surprising' if they could offer 100X our performance - especially since we have far more real-world experience on large scale customer problems.

In fact, I'd expect the Sun/Greenplum solution to be a lot slower than ours, given the architecture and the limited word we're getting from the field.

At the end of the day, most vendors offer free proof of concepts. If you're looking for a DW appliance, it's therefore very easy to prove or disprove the claims of the various vendors. We've certainly been able to prove all of ours - and that's why we've won deals such as Sears, which was for an 86TB user data system.

Stuart Frost, CEO, DATAllegro

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