At the beginning of February a new data warehouse appliance will appear: InfiniDB is a columnar, software-only appliance that has been in an open-source preview form for a few months now. The appliance market is crowded, and InfiniDB will clearly square up against products like Vertica, InfoBright and Sybase IQ, given its columnar nature. While the technology is clearly less mature than these more established products, it does have one potentially significant differentiator, and that is price. The commercial (as opposed to the open source community version) of InfiniDB will, for a typical 5 TB configuration, come in at around $10k per TB for licence (support is additional), and that is very cheap indeed.
The database uses MySQL as an interface layer, with the advantage that customers can use any of the range of administration and additional tools (e.g. data integration) that work with MySQL. A performance benchmark carried out by a well-known MySQL consulting company shows InfiniDB stacking up well against some other columnar storage engines, though in the future it would be interesting to see an independently audited TPC benchmark. The technology is still clearly developing at present, and lacks what some may see as important features in its initial version: it is not currently using a shared-nothing architecture, so users will need to work with the MPP nature of the software against a shared storage asset (SAN) for now. Loading is currently restricted to one node, rather than being parallelised across multiple nodes, for example, and the company will need to deliver these and other features in a timely manner in order to compete technologically with the established players.
Those with long memories will be curious as to the vendor behind this fresh start-up: Calpont. Calpont has had a somewhat chequered past, having been around nearly ten years without ever really shipping a product, but there seems to have been a clear-out, and the new Calpont shares no staff with the original company, has some new investors, and InfiniDB apparently has not one line of code in common with the previous Calpont technology. Quite why, given this, they did not simply start with a new company name is puzzling to me, but hopefully the new organisation can cast off any lingering memories of the old Calpont and make its way as a new start-up company.
At present there are a number of organisations using the community edition of the InfiniDB software, and it will be interesting to see what commercial traction that the made-over Calpont can gain in the market. While it is not at this stage fully developed, it will hope to emulate the success of MySQL in the database market, which did not pretend to be the most fully functional database, but did deliver most of what people needed at a significantly lower price point than the established players.