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9/15/2008
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Infobright Boosts Open Source Data Warehousing

MySQL-based analytical DBMS joins MonetDB and LucidDB among open-source, column-store data warehousing options. Sun invests in newly competitive vendor.

In a move that's good for MySQL and owner Sun Microsystems, and good for MySQL users who seek an analytical database engine with greater capacity than MyISAM, Infobright released on September 15 an open source Community Edition of its analytic data warehousing software. It's a good move for Infobright, too, though it affirms the positioning of two rival open-source, column-store, analytical DBMSes, MonetDB and LucidDB.

Formerly known as Brighthouse, Infobright's DBMS is aimed at the 500-gigabyte to 30-terabyte data warehousing sweet spot. Going open source is about "extending the ability to do data warehousing to a much broader set of companies" via database technology that is "simple to use, easy to implement, and easy to manage," says Susan Davis, Infobright's vice president of Marketing and Product Management. The company says its software, which is bundled with MySQL, can be downloaded, installed and up and running on commodity servers within minutes, with no fixed schemas and no complicated indexing or data partitioning required.

The switch to open source should make Infobright more attractive to prospective customers that are considering closed source column store DBMSes from companies such as ParAccel, Sybase, and Vertica. Infobright community edition is freely downloadable at www.infobright.org, where the company says it intends to build a large developer and partner community.

Infobright would be a natural choice for prospective users who are already using MySQL, although "quite a few" of the company's dozen current customers weren't using MySQL before they selected the product, according to Infobright Community VP Mark Windrim.

Those drawn to the prospect of open-source data warehousing may also wish to consider MonetDB and LucidDB. LucidDB claims to be "the first and only open-source RDBMS purpose-built for data warehousing and business intelligence." The software is behind LucidEra's on-demand (SaaS) BI offering but is also available for download. MonetDB development is run out of CWI, a Dutch national research institute; the software has had very little presence in North America but it is said to be the byproduct of 10 years of research in database architecture spanning OLAP, data mining, GIS, object-oriented databases, image and video databases, and XML querying. Notably, MoneyDB features both relational and XML-store solutions via a multi-model database server.

Infobright would like to compete on technical grounds and not just on availability of an open-source community edition. Davis says the company hasn't run into MonetDB or LucidDB in competitive situations. That may change, but until it does, clearly Infobright's biggest rivals will remain the column-store and MPP (parallelized) data warehousing vendors.

The company claims a competitive edge via its deployment of "data packs" and a "knowledge grid." A data pack designates 64k units of compressed data stored to disk while the knowledge grid is a metadata layer containing statistics and descriptive information about the content of each data pack and about inter-pack relationships. Compression algorithms are optimized for individual data packs and are said to offer a 10-to-one to 40-to-one advantage over traditional DBMS storage approaches.

The company has chosen the GPL license for its open-source community edition, the same license used by MySQL. For organizations that need support and features that go beyond what's available in the community edition, the company is offering the commercially licensed Infobright Enterprise Edition to Silver, Gold and Platinum subscribers. The Silver edition provides Web and e-mail support during East Coast business hours for $9,950 per terabyte per year. The Gold edition adds phone support during local business hours in North American and Europe for $12,950 per terabyte per year. The Platinum edition provides 24/7 support for $15,950 per terabyte per year. The commercial version has double the load speed of the Community Edition — 100 GB per hour per table versus 50 GB per hour — and it also includes Insert, Update, Delete functionality used to clean and update data.

Infobright also announced today that it has received $10 million C-round venture funding from MySQL owner Sun Microsystem and two other source. The company is sensibly targeting particular big-data industries — financial services, online marketing, and telecommunications — rather than going after the broad data-warehousing market. Infobright, like MySQL, will pursue an ISV/OEM market that would embed its product in specialized solutions and has additionally formed alliances with commerical open source BI vendors Jaspersoft and Pentaho and data-integration vendor Talend. Infobright data warehouses are accessible via Business Objects, SAS, MicroStrategy, and other BI tools as well as via standard standard database interfaces and programming-language APIs.

For a three-year-old company with only a dozen customers, Toronto-based InfoBright is now surprisingly well positioned to compete with both commercial and open-source data warehousing vendors.

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