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Playing Devil's Advocate: DATAllegro vs. Netezza

This recent article by DATAllegro CEO Stuart Frost is well worth reading (and not just because they quote me in it). If only because I love a good debate, I think there are a few counter-points worth making though.

Non-Proprietary Hardware

I love this section, particularly the quote from Intelligent Enterprise. Saying that DATAllegro has an "open, hardware-independent approach" reminds me of Henry Ford's opinion on available colors for the Model T: "You can have it any color you want as long as it's black". Yes, DATAllegro uses commodity hardware. Don't mistake that to mean that you have any say in what hardware will go into your DATAllegro system though.

Non-Proprietary Software

This section cracks me up too. If DATAllegro's software isn't proprietary, then what are their customers paying for?


This section leaves me scratching my head a bit. Ok, DATAllegro systems scale to 400TB. Do they function well at that size, and what are they used for? For all we know, Netezza may be doing ad-hoc analysis at 200TB, while DATAllegro may be doing simple archiving at 400TB. I'm not sure the raw data size is ultimately what's important here.

Distributed DW

This section should get top billing. No, not because they quote me in it, but because this is where DATAllegro is set to clean house. Ok, so I guess that's an endorsement, not a counterpoint, but this concept will be huge, mark my words.

Parting Thoughts

Nit-picking aside, I think that it's really great that Mr. Frost is writing posts like this. They're admittedly biased, and a bit cheeky at times, but it's good to get some informed, inside perspective. I think DATAllegro would be better served to focus on their obvious strengths than to thumb-wrestle competitors on line items, but the verbal sparring is certainly more entertaining. As such, I eagerly look forward to more.

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Thanks for the kind words on my blog. I'm certainly attempting to take a slightly different approach to the usual bland 'CEO blog'.

Here are my responses to your comments:

Non-proprietary HW
We actually do have a couple of options in this area (OK, so it's limited to Dell and Bull servers right now), but the real point is that IT staff will find the entire HW stack very familiar and easy to service and support. We can also move a lot faster to take advantage of the latest CPUs, disks, etc. Finally, our R&D efforts are focused on software, rather than designing HW. The history of the IT market has shown that non-proprietary almost always wins out over proprietary HW in the long run.

Non-proprietary SW
Well, yes, some of our software is proprietary. But, unlike Netezza, the underlying OS and DBMS are not. Again, this allows us to focus our energies on innovations such as our grid approach to distributed DWs.

We actually do have a real, production system with over 400TB of user data. It's used for a very complex combo of ELT, ad hoc and fixed reports and processes close to 1bn new records a day. Netezza isn't anywhere near that.

Distributed DW
I can only agree!



Stuart Frost
CEO, DATAllegro
Thanks for the comments Stuart, particularly the clarifications on scalability.

I agree that using commodity hardware and open source software makes it easier to focus on the other, more important bits of software, and that that by itself is worth touting. As for the "easy to service and support" angle, however... are customers' IT staffs allowed/expected to service DATAllegro systems themselves?

No, customers aren't expected to service our appliances themselves. However, they often carry out simple tasks such as hot-swapping disks etc.

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