Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Columnar Databases and the Future of Analytics

Delivering deeper data analysis, in formats more consistent with end-user expectations, has been a passion at Jaspersoft for several years. This passion will continue because making analytics, up to and including the sophisticated multi-dimensional type, more accessible and usable must be the goal of the BI provider who claims “pervasiveness” as its mantle. To help our community and customers know and influence where we’re going, we’ve published white papers that describe our view of the broader analytics landscape as well as one that describes the different types of analysis that our tools offer (e.g., in-memory analysis versus traditional, OLAP analysis).

Making data analysis a more common part of every business person’s day is fast becoming the province of both the database and the analytic tool. To advance the analytic agenda, columnar data storage engines, complete with speedy, in-memory techniques, help streamline query processing - delivering results in an instant and at a very low cost. Jaspersoft and its customers have been taking advantage of this trend growingly during the past two years. For example, in addition to analytic databases for enterprise data warehouses like GreenPlum, Jaspersoft has certified its products on columnar analytic databases including Vertica and Infobright, and we have many joint customers together. In many cases, the combination of in-memory-based analytics (within our BI tool) and the strengths and speed of the analytic database, obviate the need for building and maintaining not only star schemas in the data base but traditional OLAP cubes for the BI tool as well. Now that’s the beginning of analytics for everyone.

Interestingly, the pioneer in columnar technology for business intelligence usage, Sybase IQ, is one of the gems to be picked up by SAP. It recently announced its intention to acquire Sybase, and most speculation around the intentions have focused on Sybase’s treasure chest of mobile solutions. While I appreciate the mobile aspects, the combination of SAP’s Business Objects with Sybase IQ could be a formidable, albeit expensive and proprietary, competitor in the changing analytics landscape.

Furthering this analytic future solidly, Ingres last week announced the general availability of its VectorWise commercial analytic database that takes columnar technology even further. And, Ingres plans to provide an open source version before the year is out . Ingres describes VectorWise as next-generation analytic database technology as its announcement summarizes:

“Ingres VectorWise unlocks the power of modern commodity CPUs with a revolutionary database engine that leverages vector-based processing and on-chip memory to provide dramatic 10x - 70x performance gains over other databases.”

The performance claims are being validated by both customers and partners – and it just may be that Ingres has some groundbreaking new technology on its hands. With free downloads, trials, tools and documentation, Ingres is inviting the world to check it out. If it can use low-cost leadership along with super-fast processing to drive faster, interactive analytics and richer data visualization onto the laptops of more knowledge workers, I think Ingres VectorWise will have an important seat at the table of the future of analytics in the enterprise. Imagine that.

Brian Gentile
Chief Executive Officer

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