There's been a lot of action on the data warehousing front this summer, particularly among appliance vendors looking to prove they can hold their own against established database companies.
Philip Howard of Bloor Research, writing at IT Director, offers a good rundown of what's been happening so far. He tracks recent moves by ParAccel, Calpont and PANTA Systems, all of which are looking to break into the installed base of Oracle users out there. In the coming year, it will be up to these companies to prove that their systems offer functionality superior enough for users to give up on Oracle warehousing and go with a third-party solution.
That's not to say that some Oracle users aren't having great success with third-party warehouse appliances. This article details the experiences of Corporate Express US, a Colorado-based office supply firm that installed Netezza Corp.'s Performance Server appliance to supplement its Oracle 10g warehouse. The company needed a quick boost to its capabilities so it could offer hosted warehouse services to customers, like arch-competitors Office Depot and Staples do. The network provides service to 10,000 employees at more than 1,000 businesses.
Netezza also released a couple of product enhancements this summer aimed at improving performance in both new and installed systems. Release 4 of the Netezza Performance Server takes advantage of an FPGA on each drive in the appliance to integrate a relational database with server and storage, using hardware acceleration to support mixed query types and other warehouse functions. The company also added a SAS/ACCESS interface designed to integrate with SAS customers' business intelligence, analytics and data integration software.
Meanwhile, DATAllegro is bringing grid technology to its data warehousing appliances, allowing enterprises to decentralize their operations without giving up central control and governance. The DATAllegro v3 platform uses commodity hardware for either single-rack, multirack or appliance configurations. Grid technology lets you employ a hub-and-spoke architecture using existing high-speed infrastructures that can be easily reconfigured to meet changing enterprise needs.
Data warehousing used to be the enterprise equivalent of washing the kitchen floor: necessary, but boring. But now that it can be done quickly and easily, and can even be a profit center for some of you, it has a new lease on life.