Data Warehousing Heats Up

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Despite the faltering economy, data storage requirements for both commercial and non-commercial enterprises are still on the rise, leading to a healthy demand for data warehousing appliances.


But while it may be tempting for users to evaluate the latest systems based on capacity alone, it's helpful to know that these are not merely simple storage devices -- they play key analytical and organizational roles as well, making speed and the ability to integrate with legacy business applications key factors to consider.


Of course, size does matter, which is why Netezza is bumping up its line of Performance Server appliances into the petabyte level within the coming year. The company is beta testing a "Compress Engine" that it claims can scale up the density of the system, which currently tops out at around 100 TB, without hampering performance.


Netezza is no doubt feeling the heat in what is shaping up to be a very competitive market. The latest entrant in the U.S. is Kognitio, which has built a strong following in the UK from the acquisition of Whitecross Systems earlier in the decade. The company's flagship product is the all-software WX2 appliance, which can be loaded onto any hardware platform. In this Q&A with CBR Online, Managing Director Roger Llewellyn lays out the company's case that a software approach is the best way to ensure that intelligence and analytics can scale up without having to institute a patchwork of specialized add-ons to make up for core hardware deficiencies.


Newcomers like Kognitio are clearly looking to get in on the action that established players are enjoying. DATAllegro, for example, finished 2007 with a 330 percent sales increase over the year before, with the average installation coming in at $1.3 million. The company recently released v3 of its warehousing platform combining Dell servers, EMC storage, Cisco networking systems and the Ingres open source database.


At the moment, data warehousing is reserved largely for the largest of organizations, usually in the telecom, finance and data services fields. That's not to say that smaller firms aren't in need of warehousing solutions, but the complexity and cost of current approaches puts them out of reach. Now, if a low-cost system for small and medium-sized organizations does emerge, it will be a whole new ballgame out there.