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7/11/2011
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Sybase IQ Gains Beefier Analysis Capabilities

Analytic database graduates from marts to enterprise data warehouse needs through massively parallel processing, distributed querying, and an API for unstructured data.

8 Big Data Deployments In Detail
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More data, more data types, more queries, and more users. Sybase says it can handle it all with Sybase IQ 15.3, an upgraded analytic database released late last week.

An upgrade path is particularly important for IQ since the database has been around for more than a decade and is in use by more than 2,000 customers. Since data stores among these customers and potential new customers are now growing into the hundreds of terabytes, version 15.3 is aimed at improving scalability and performance with a PlexQ massively parallel processing (MPP) option. PlexQ supports a grid of CPU processing power--deployed on third-party, commodity hardware--that's said to deliver 12 times faster performance compared with existing IQ deployments.

Like other column-store databases (like HP Vertica and ParAccel), Sybase IQ has been used mostly for focused, data-mart-style deployments. Competition has led these and other vendors to add features to support broader, enterprise data warehouse-style deployments covering more data, more queries, and more users.

To handle diverse analyses, 15.3 adds distributed processing capabilities that execute queries across multiple CPUs in a PlexQ grid. The feature is said to automatically balance workloads, but to ensure fastest-possible processing for essential queries, PlexQ also includes a Logical Servers feature that lets administrators virtualize and assign clusters of server capacity to specific users, departments, or queries.

A key difference between Sybase IQ and most other MPP-capable products is that it remains a shared-everything, rather than shared-nothing environment. The downside of shared everything is that processors can compete to access the shared pool of storage (usually a storage-area network), and that contention can degrade query performance. David Jonker, product marketing manager for Sybase IQ, said the upside of the shared-everything approach is that it's more flexible in terms of the types of queries that can be optimized.

"In the shared-nothing approach, you have to commit partitioning and storing the data on certain nodes, so all the machines don't have access to all the data," Jonker said. "With shared-everything, you can get all your machines querying the SAN and returning the results of a specific query."

Organizations making use of big data are often exploiting previously underused data, including unstructured information. Thus, Sybase IQ 15.3 adds a multimedia API that lets users analyze images, audio, video, and other multimedia content alongside structured information. For example, Jonker said insurers are analyzing structured claim data alongside ultrasound images, accident photographs, and scanned documents to detect fake or duplicated documents and patterns of fraud.

In short, Sybase has broadened the analysis possibilities for new and existing customers with 15.3, providing more data headroom, flexibility to add new data, and scalability to support more queries and users. IQ already has deployments with as much as a petabyte of user-accessible data (before compression in the database) and as many as 3,000 users, according to Jonker. Once deployed, PlexQ will increase those top-end specs, he said.

The 15.3 upgrade is available immediately. PlexQ is an optional feature that includes distributed query processing and logical server management capabilities. Prices were not disclosed.

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