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9 Key Big Data Developments From Strata

We analyze the important news from SAS, Hortonworks, MetaScale, and others at the Strata conference, as big data seeks a productive next chapter.

Hadoop and beyond
Technical announcements are inevitable at a big data, er, "data at work" conference. Strata 2014 saw more than a few, but here's a short list:

MetaScale Appliances: In a bit of surprise announcement, MetaScale, the subsidiary of Sears Holdings, announced that it's offering a "line" of branded Hadoop appliances that will run Cloudera, Hortonworks, or another distribution of the customer's choice. Mind you, Cloudera, Hortonworks, and others have hardware partners that offer everything from recommended configurations to single-SKU, software-preinstalled options (as in the case of the Oracle Big Data Appliance running Cloudera, for example).

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I had it in my mind that MetaScale was a consulting organization aimed at helping big companies exploit their data with help from Hadoop and related tools, technologies, and analytics. Its expertise, developed first at Sears, is particularly relevant to companies paying big bucks for mainframe compute cycles. That impression was formed after spending a day with MetaScale executives in their offices and reporting on achievements at Sears. Okay, that was 16 months ago and executives ranks, and perhaps priorities, have since changed.

Maybe MetaScale wants to get its foot in the door earlier in the process by helping you with the basics of deploying a Hadoop cluster. But we understood this outfit's real value to be delivered higher up in the stack, helping customers to understand how to take advantage of data and reinvent legacy processes with the aid of a big data platform.

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Couchbase 2.5: This upgrade of the highly scalable, NoSQL database promises better performance through Rack Awareness for high availability and better security through cross-data-center data encryption. With Couchbase Server 2.5's Rack Awareness, administrators can create logical groupings of Couchbase Server nodes and replica copies of data that are automatically distributed across server nodes on different racks. This ensures that data is secure despite disruptions such as power outages or switch or rack failure, according to Couchbase. Building on existing cross-datacenter replication capabilities, the 2.5 update adds a secure data-encryption option whereby data moving across wide area networks can be transmitted using SSL encryption between datacenters.

InfinDB 4.5: Before we get to the technology news, the company formerly know as Calpont has been renamed InfiniDB. This matches the name of the company's massively parallel processing database management system, which has been made to run in the cloud and on Apache Hadoop as well as MPP clusters.

We were on to the name change when we included "InfiniDB," alphabetically, in our 16 Top Big Data Analytics Platformscollection. The high points of the InfiniDB 4.5 release announced this week include new Hadoop capabilities such as fast bulk loading for HDFS, Apache Sqoop integration with parallel extraction for bi-directional data load/unload. A new InfiniDB Enterprise Manager provides a unified console for monitoring and managing sources and system resources. New REST APIs support integration into various enterprise systems.

InfiniDB joins Pivotal (with HAWQ) in the camp of vendors running relational database engines on Hadoop. MapR and HP Vertica also joined that camp this week in a separate, Strata-related announcement covered Tuesday. The payoff is a fast SQL-on-Hadoop option that's likely to beat Impala and Hive on query speeds, but we have yet to see benchmarks or tests that prove that performance.

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