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Greenplum Harbors Great Ambitions for Postgres

Combining Open Source, BI, and Data Warehousing

Greenplum is the San Mateo, California start-up trying to make an open source database good enough for enterprise-class business intelligence and data warehousing out of PostgresSQL.

The words 'business intelligence,' 'data warehousing' and 'open source' aren't usually used in the same sentence.

Then again, as chi-chi as BI might be, its database infrastructure hasn't evolved much in the last 20 years - Bill Inmon, the father of data warehousing, would tell you that - so it's way past being ripe for rethinking.

Greenplum's proposition, which borders on the "Super Warehouse," is to pair open source and its attendant commodity boxes with supercomputer clustering concepts, making the solution a lot cheaper and accessible to a wider market.

According to Greenplum, traditional BI and data warehousing solutions are big iron solutions that cost a lot of money, take a long time to deploy and are difficult to upgrade or replace. And they need replacing, it would say.

Greenplum is a combination of Metapa and Didera, two companies who found each other two years ago.

Three-year-old BI analytics infrastructure house meets Linux supercomputer firm that scales databases. Metapa winds up buying Didera, gets another $8 million in funding and some new management like CEO Sam Mohamad, an ex-Oracle guy and former president of sales at Exodus, and Greenplum is born - exactly why has yet to be clearly explained.

Anyway, Greenplum is starting its march to market with what it says is a free downloadable production-ready data warehouse tickler called DeepGreen and an open source project called Bizgres that it's sponsoring at www.bizgres.org.

The idea is to encourage BI-focused development around Postgres, which of course is already open source and pushing into high-performance OLTP. Although it serves Greenplum's purposes, Bizgres is supposed to be controlled by the community it attracts. It's apparently got the backing of the PostgresSQL core development team - well, one of the key guys works for Greenplum - and Greenplum will contribute manpower and code like its bulk data loader.

The company then expects to come along in June or July with a multi-terabyte commercial product called DeepGreen MPP, the letters standing for Massively Parallel Processing, that it'll sell for something comparatively reasonable (pricing hasn't been settled yet) to retail, telecoms, entertainment and banking promising a 10x-50x-performance improvement over pricier, more conventional solutions that not everybody believes is achievable.

The shared-nothing MPP widgetry includes proprietary features like clustering and a database optimizer and will obviously run on commodity clusters. Greenplum says that by moving processing power next to the data so that data analysis always occurs in parallel, it can deliver a dramatic boost in query performance. It also imagines adding incremental data warehousing capabilities where and when needed.

Evidently Greenplum has an early 1.2 version of MPP out, with HP and Sun supplying the hardware. It claims an account would save $1 million on a 16-server 1.5TB system and $5 million on a 64-server 4.5TB system.

DeepGreen, meanwhile, which runs on Linux and OpenSolaris, is available under a BSD-style license and does best on a single server with no more than a 300GB workload. It targets SMEs with entry-level and department-class data marts. There will be commercial support and Greenplum is hopeful of eventually moving DeepGreen users up to MPP class.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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Most Recent Comments
Piet van Zyl 06/07/05 04:27:06 AM EDT

Why are articles by this cow still available on syscon sites?

Wasn't there a commitment from syscon to remove the MOG's articles after her cowardly attack on Pamela Jones?

So what's your excuse this time?

An Expert's Guide to Oracle Technology 06/06/05 04:47:46 AM EDT

Trackback Added: EnterpriseDB - My First Look; A report on my first thoughts after installing and playing with the Open Source, Oracle compatible EnterpriseDB beta.