2010 data warehouse appliance guide and special report

In this data warehouse appliance guide and special report, you'll find a roundup of data warehouse best practices and the latest news and trends in the data warehouse market, including new appliance technologies.

Data warehouse appliance guide and special report The data warehouse market is growing fast, and in particular there's been increased interest in data warehouse appliances — pre-packaged server and storage hardware bundled with analytic databases. The high level of interest in appliances is causing many data warehouse vendors to change their strategies and jostle for position in what is becoming a red-hot part of the warehousing market.

In this 2010 data warehouse appliance guide and special report, we've compiled informative articles, case studies, best-practices advice and reports on the latest data warehouse appliance trends and technology in the industry.


Table of contents:

The best things in life are free... including data warehouse appliances
Cost down, performance up for many data warehouse appliances
Data warehouse experts: Data silos still possible with Netezza's new data warehouse appliance
Though mega-vendors rule the market, data warehouse appliances are growing in popularity


Data warehouse appliance news and strategies  

The best things in life are free... including data warehouse appliances
Why would you dish out thousands of dollars in cash for a data warehouse appliance when you can get one for free? It's a question that two data warehouse vendors — Greenplum and ParAccel — are asking users by giving away versions of their analytic databases for no cost.

Of course, as with most things in life, there are some catches.

Last fall, Greenplum introduced a free single-node version of its massively parallel processing (MPP) data warehouse. The Greenplum Database Single-Node Edition lets users create and share small data marts, gratis. But it was designed primarily for data analysts who are "working on the fringes" of traditional data warehouse structures. Likewise, ParAccel is offering customers free software licensing if they switch from several competing data warehouse appliances to its MPP database. However, ParAccel's program, cheekily called "Cash for Clunkers," requires customers to sign up for a three-year software subscription, with only the first year free.

Whether the giveaways are examples of innovative marketing or mere gimmicks, , there lies a deeper meaning in them: the data warehouse market is getting more and more competitive, and data warehouse vendors are doing whatever they can to spur more interest in their products.

Cost down, performance up for many data warehouse appliances
Despite the increasing performance and scalability of data warehouse appliances, their cost isn't rising – instead, prices are dropping to new lows. But how are data warehouse vendors able to do this?

Pretty simple, actually: They're moving away from high-cost proprietary hardware to less-expensive commodity servers and storage technology, industry analysts say.

Previously, companies had to buy proprietary hardware from data warehouse vendors — increasing their overall costs. Now businesses often can use commodity servers made by the likes of IBM, HP and Sun (recently acquired by Oracle) to run data warehouses. For example, data warehouse vendor Netezza is supporting its latest appliance, called TwinFin, on IBM blade servers. "If you have a lot of blade servers, which normally a lot of people have because it's low cost and it's very good from a processing power perspective, you can just run the application on top of that," said Yankee Group analyst Arindam Banerjee.

Data warehouse experts: Data silos still possible with Netezza's new data warehouse appliance
Last month, Netezza released a data warehouse appliance called Skimmer, a smaller version of its flagship TwinFin platform that is made for department-level deployments. According to the vendor, the new system was designed so it can be easily integrated with a TwinFin-based central data warehouse (aka, the hub-and-spoke model).

Analysts warn, however, that data silos are still possible with Skimmer if precautions aren't taken and systems aren't architected correctly. Companies could "shoot themselves in the foot" with Skimmer, said Jim Kobielus, an analyst with Forrester Research. That isn't necessarily Netezza's fault, he added, putting the onus on customers and how they deploy the new appliance.

In order to keep data silos from popping up, Kobielus and others said, businesses need to make sure their departmental data warehouses and data marts are grabbing data from common sources with standardized definitions, metadata and data models. Chances of silos being created are slimmer if a company uses TwinFin as its enterprise data warehouse software, according to Kobielus. But even then, work needs to be done, he said. Despite Netezza's positioning, Kobielus thinks that Skimmer could be a viable option primarily for small and medium-sized companies.

Though mega-vendors rule the market, data warehouse appliances are growing in popularity
Mega-vendors are still the kings of the data warehouse market, according to Gartner's latest Data Warehouse Magic Quadrant report, but the consulting firm said that more and more companies are showing interest in data warehouse appliances .

Customer demand for faster analytic performance is pushing data warehouse vendors to add technologies such as in-database analytics and column architectures to their products. But at the same time, a growing desire for quicker and less costly deployments is helping to boost the popularity of bundled data warehouse appliances, Gartner said.

"The bottom line is [customers] want to call one person for support" when there is a problem with data warehouse performance, said Donald Feinberg, co-author of Gartner's report.

Despite this, data warehouse mega-vendors haven't felt a significant hit to their hold on the market, according to the report. That's partly because they've broadened the deployment options they support; for example, market leader Teradata now sells data warehouse appliances itself.

 

This was first published in March 2010

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