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Analyst's View on HP NeoView 2.0: The Enterprise Data Warehouse, Reconfigured

HP's new appliance is aimed at enterprise data warehouse deployments with mixed BI-query workloads.
A Closer Look at NeoView

NeoView is the foundation of HP's enterprise DW offering. A preconfigured system that combines hardware, software and an interconnecting " fabric," NeoView offers a " shared nothing" architecture, which means that nodes in its massively parallel processing (MPP) system are independent and do not share memory or storage. In NeoView, the nodes are tied together by ServerNet, a proprietary interconnect technology developed for Tandem Computers, which HP acquired as part of Compaq in 2002. HP plans to replace ServerNet eventually with 10G Ethernet when that technology's performance is sufficient.

NeoView derives much of its current technology from HP's ongoing redevelopment of NonStop SQL, a largely dormant product that Tandem originally designed as an analytical database to run on Microsoft Windows NT clusters. With the NeoView 2.0 release, HP is taking its significant re-engineering investment to market in the hope of catching the next generation of BI, DW and analytics implementations, which will focus on operational users and tasks. These implementations will demand far greater scalability, availability and flexibility than was required of past implementations. In NeoView, HP also brings to market a new query optimizer and a " performance repository" feature to tune frequently used data for production reporting and other BI uses.

DW Appliances in Perspective

Data warehousing appliances are becoming a critical component of many organizations' information management strategies to extend BI and analytics to operational users and varied business processes. Many companies are keenly interested in alternatives to the traditionally costly and time-consuming task of configuring and tuning database, server and storage systems for data mart and data warehouse implementations. HP's NeoView, like most DW appliances, employs massively parallel processing (MPP) technology, which scales easily and relatively inexpensively to handle CPU-intensive queries and table scans. Configuration pricing is straightforward, based on the number of processors and terabytes of storage needed.

NeoView differs from appliance competitors like DATAllegro and Netezza in that it serves the needs of organizations – like HP itself – that are intent on consolidating data marts into an enterprise data warehouse. These users need a system that supports mixed workloads of different types of BI and analytical queries. Ultimately, this positioning will put HP in direct competition with Teradata, which specializes in DW, has a parallel system, and can handle mixed BI and analytical workloads running at a very high level. In the short term, NeoView probably will be of most interest to companies that are struggling to scale up traditional DWs running on non-MPP databases but are hesitant to incur the greater expense and configuration complexity these implementations require.

Recommendation

Ventana Research recommends that companies that plan to consolidate data marts and establish an enterprise DW take a serious look at HP's NeoView. While the database and DW industry is well-established, changes in demand – especially for operational BI – will shake things up and should give organizations cause to re-examine their data warehousing and information management investments. Along with their benefits, DW appliances have a potential downside in that they could exacerbate the information management problem of out-of-control data marts. Once it has matured, however, HP's approach could offer customers the best of both worlds.

David Stodder is vice president and research director - information management and IT performance management at Ventana Research. He was previously editor-in-chief and editorial director of Intelligent Enterprise.