Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Stackify Blog, Andreas Grabner

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Industrial IoT

Microservices Expo: Article

Are BI Appliances Simply 30-Year-Old Databases?

Have you been hearing the term 'BI Appliance' too much lately?

In a thought-provoking blog post published by WIT, a business intelligence consulting company in the U.S., the author writes of latest acquisitions relating to Business Intelligence appliances.

BI Appliances
It got me thinking. I’ve been seeing and hearing the term ‘BI appliance’ a lot recently, and whenever I do - I find myself struggling to understand what it means.

One characteristic that seems to be commonly identified with BI appliances is that they are a combination of software and hardware that form specific functions that have to do with analytics (i.e business intelligence). WIT’s article lists a few examples, including HANA (SAP), HP Business Decision Appliance (Microsoft), Netezza (acquired by IBM) and Greenplum (acquired by EMC).

But is proprietary hardware really required for a so-called BI appliance? No, it’s not. And indeed, I have noticed numerous references to Vertica (acquired by HP) and ElastiCube (by SiSense) as BI appliances. Interestingly enough, both are software-only solutions (i.e. software appliances).

It makes sense, as it shouldn’t matter if your ‘appliance’ runs on proprietary hardware or commodity hardware, if it essentially does that same thing.

The BI Appliance Wars
In a recent interview and in response to quips made by Netezza’s CEO regarding HP’s latest acquisition, Vertica CEO Chris Lynch had this to say about Netezza:

Their tag line is ‘The power to question everything'. So the first question is: why do they need proprietary hardware? The second question is: why are they using a database engine that’s based on technology from 1982?

He is obviously angry, but I agree with the premise of his argument. If you’re in the analytics business and you require proprietary hardware – there’s something seriously wrong with your database software technology. Commodity hardware is so powerful today with 64-bit computing and multi-core CPUs, that it’s hard to imagine what type of BI solution would require proprietary hardware.  That is, if your technology was engineered in the 21st century.

The established vendors are not oblivious to this, but rewriting their entire codebase is not something they are willing to do. So some are partnering and/or merging with hardware companies as an alternative. But at some point, scraping this codebase will be unavoidable, or customers will flee due to availability of much better and cheaper alternatives.

BI Appliance or BI Tool?

As if to toss a little more confusion into the mix, the WIT author asks:

Though I wonder - with memory becoming cheaper and cheaper and with 64 bit platform, why do you have to have a special appliance? Why not use an in-memory tool with tons of RAM ?

The question itself indicates a misunderstanding of why appliances exist in the first place, and there are a several answers to this question.  Here are a few:

  1. RAM is cheaper, but it's not cheap. Disk was and always will be cheaper than RAM.
  2. The price of a computer jumps significantly beyond 64GB.  A PC with 64GB of RAM costs significantly less than a server machine with 65GB of RAM, even though there is supposedly just a single GB of memory difference.
  3. In-memory databases assume that the main bottleneck is I/O.  However, when dealing with large amounts of data, this is no longer true.  At such volumes, bottlenecks are between RAM and CPU.

For more information about this, please read In-Memory BI is Not the Future, It's the Past.

The ElastiCube Chronicles

More Stories By Elad Israeli

Elad Israeli is co-founder of business intelligence software company, SiSense. SiSense has developed Prism, a next-generation business intelligence platform based on its own, unique ElastiCube BI technology. Elad is responsible for driving the vision and strategy of SiSense’s unique BI products. Before co-founding SiSense, Elad served as a Product Manager at global IT services firm Ness Technologies (NASDAQ: NSTC). Previously, Elad was a Product Manager at Anysoft and, before that, he co-founded and led technology development at BiSense, a BI technology company.

Microservices Articles
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, discussed how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He also discussed how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
Most DevOps journeys involve several phases of maturity. Research shows that the inflection point where organizations begin to see maximum value is when they implement tight integration deploying their code to their infrastructure. Success at this level is the last barrier to at-will deployment. Storage, for instance, is more capable than where we read and write data. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Atwell, a Developer Advocate for NetApp, will discuss the role and value...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, will discuss how to use Kubernetes to setup a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace....
Skeuomorphism usually means retaining existing design cues in something new that doesn’t actually need them. However, the concept of skeuomorphism can be thought of as relating more broadly to applying existing patterns to new technologies that, in fact, cry out for new approaches. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager at Red Hat, discussed why containers should be paired with new architectural practices such as microservices rathe...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Kubernetes and Google Container Engine Workshop, being held November 3, 2016, in conjunction with @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele introduces participants to Kubernetes and Google Container Engine (GKE). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, students learn the key concepts and practices for deploying and maintainin...