At TDWI in Las Vegas this week, Vertica announced version 4.0 of
its Analytic Database columnar MPP technology. There are several
main areas of improved functionality. First is a major revamp of
the optimiser. As well as an improved cost model, this closes
certain gaps, such as proper support for full outer joins. Next
is significantly improved resource and workload management. In
particular it is now possible to assign priorities to certain
users or processes, and to assign run-time resources to processes
(for example, to stop a large batch job hogging the system).
There is also improved partition management, for example the
ability to drop a partition while conducting a load.
Another area of improvement is in support for analytic functions.
Version 4.0 brings time-series analysis, moving average and
cumulative functions, which are relevant to certain types of use
cases, such as securities analysis. Vertica supports MapReduce,
but not as an in-database function. There is also Unicode (UTF-8)
support, which opens up the possibility for Vertica of selling
into more international markets (at present its sales are around
80% US and the rest in Europe, principally in the UK), for
example Asian countries which require double-byte character
Additionally this release brings dramatically improved
performance on large deletes and updates, which have
traditionally been the Achilles Heel of columnar approaches. It
may seem as if this should hardly be an issue for data
warehousing applications, which are essentially read-only, but in
fact many real-life applications do require data to be updated
regularly, even if they are not OLTP applications. Finally there
are improvements to the user interface of both the automated
database designer and the administration tool, bringing in better
graphical representations of memory and CPU usage.
Vertica continues to show strong commercial progress, with a
doubling of its customer base in 2009, and over 120 commercial
customers now using its technology. Customers include Verizon, JP
Morgan, Experian and Sprint. This release demonstrates its
continued investment in the core product, and its responsiveness
to its customer feedback e.g. the incorporation of time series
and moving averages, which are heavily used in the capital
markets. Given the well-documented struggles of some data
warehouse appliance vendors, it is encouraging to see Vertica
continuing to grow rapidly. This also validates the columnar MPP
approach to analytic applications as an alternative to
traditional row-oriented MPP approaches.
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