Tony Bain

Building products & teams that leverage data, analytics, AI & automation to do amazing things

Back from Blogging Hiatus – Update 3

October 10, 2009 | Tony Bain



No specific announcements from Ingres other than I think the VectorWise stuff is progressing well.

To me Ingres is a bit of a dark horse.  They are open source and doing reasonable revenues.  And they are active in the enterprise market (something MySQL hasn’t really achieved).  But they remain largely off the radar in commentary surrounding the DBMS industry.

My personal pick is this will start to change during the second half of next year.  Several things happening in the market (Oracle’s eventual acquisition of MySQL being a major one) and some things they have happening internally (VectorWise being a major one) I think will help to start to propel Ingres back into the RDBMS spotlight, especially in the enterprise.


It sounds like VoltDB is getting closer with some talk of being able to see an early version of the product soon.

VoltDB will be an interesting case to watch.  VoltDB (Vertica’s “sister”) is a lightweight DBMS optimized for large scale transaction processing.  I don’t know which bits of the architecture they are ok for people to talk about yet so I won’t go into detail on that.  But regardless of the technology, VoltDB should be watched because of their transaction processing focus.  Many analytics DBMS vendors have entered the market over the last few years, but few transaction processing alternatives have set up shop recently.  This is for a few reasons, one major on being the transaction processing market is such a tough nut to crack.

It sounds as if VoltDB has been bootstrapped with funding help coming from a company who is involved in the stock market.   Certain areas of FSI obviously have “niche’s” that require high end distributed transaction processing, which is precisely where I am sure they will find their early traction.  But what will be interesting is if they can break out of this niche and start to engage the wider ISV community.  The go to market will be much different and much more difficult than what they have seen with Vertica.  But will luminaries like Stonebraker leading the way, who knows they may make a dent.

They funny thing with Michael Stonebraker is most of the companies or institutions he is involved with that I speak to, say that he is spending most of his time on "their" project.  I am actually starting to doubt there is one Michael Stonebraker and suspect cloning may somehow be involved…


I spoke to IBM a few weeks back when they announced their DB2 PureScale technology.  PureScale is actually quite exciting.  But they chose to announce it around the time of Oracle OpenWorld and press attention was largely drowned out but, among other things, Larry’s persistent bagging of IBM.

IBM DB2 PureScale is a technology solution which provides shared-disk clustering for DB2 on IBM Power Systems.  New nodes can be added online (a traditional problem for shared disk clustering), and node failures will not see new requests fail as they will be transparently routed to other available nodes (although I believe in progress transactions will fail).  This is done using the hardware architecture of the Power Systems, and also done in a way that doesn’t require any application code changes.

However, on a different note, is it seems part of IBM’s strategy for gaining customers from Oracle is to make DB2 more compatible with Oracle.  They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery so I am not sure if IBM is paying Oracle a huge compliment here?  But more seriously, my concern about this strategy is I believe Oracle is very much in aware of, and in control of, their wins & losses and can put in preventative measures when they so desire to block any major hemorrhaging.  IBM, I don't think you want to put too much focus on chasing Oracle's cast offs.  DB2 is also good in it's own right and you need to do a better job of showcasing the platform to ISV's if you want to retain your pride of place.

Although, at least this may allow ISV’s to more easily support DB2 alongside Oracle.


XtremeData is yet another vendor to enter the MPP analytics space.  XtremeData is worthy of note because their product is built upon their unique FPGA.  Unlike other FPGA’s I have seen, I understand that theirs plugs into a spare CPU socket in the server.  The FPGA can then provide pushed down data streaming operations on data at rates available to the CPU bus (instead of the PCI bus other some other FPGA approaches use).  Although I haven’t seen any benchmark data yet for what this translates into.

When I spoke to XtremeData their focus seemed to be very much on the very high end.  Large deployments of many nodes, in many racks, handling many hundreds of TB (or PB).  As I have spoken about before, the MPP space is very busy right now.  Most of the companies are naturally focusing on the mid-range MPP needs, so maybe focusing on the very large end is a smart way to differentiate.  This of course may change as they ramp up and I will be curious to see if there actually is a sustainable market at this very top end.


There has been a lot happening in the NoSQL technologies (Mongo, Cassandra, Voldemort etc) which I will comment on in other posts.  But an annoying thing, which can sometimes happen with community open source initiatives, is the level of infighting and bickering has been rising steadily.  And this is not even on important technological decisions.  An example, a lot of the bandwidth of the NOSQL mailing list is debating what to call themselves (which degraded into personal attacks and name calling at one point).  NoSQL vs many other things, and even what the definition of NoSQL is.  This really highlights to me the importance of the commercialized organizations surrounding this technology to keeping providing the necessary beacons to focus on and more this initiative forward.