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ParAccel Update

Not long ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Kim Stanick of ParAccel to get an update on what they've been doing and where they're headed. Here are the highlights from my notes.

Business News


Company Growth


Unlike many (or even most) companies, ParAccel grew last year, doubling from roughly 30 to 60 employees.

POCs


ParAccel spent its first year of operation focused largely on competing effectively in POCs. They now measure POC lengths in days rather than weeks, and are actively engaged in multiple concurrent POCs in the field. In addition, POC sizes are growing, and now range between 10TB and 100TB systems, with tests often performed in both in-memory and on-disk configurations. To me, the combination of POC speed (days), location (in the field), size (100TB) and flexibility (memory vs. disk) is a sign that the product has matured rapidly.

I saw a handful of selected results from POCs with a variety of customers (retail, financials, entertainment, etc.), but the quote that really jumped out at me concerning POCs was "unbeaten on performance". The performance results I saw were impressive (though I honestly don't expect them to show me the unimpressive ones). To their credit, there were a couple queries in the POC results where ParAccel was not faster, and those were not redacted. A good sign if you ask me. Cynically, however, I have to wonder: if they're not getting beaten on performance, where are they getting beaten? ;-)

Reference Customer


Late last year ParAccel announced its first (as far as I'm aware) reference customer, namely Merkle. Interestingly Merkle selected ParAccel to replace an in-house data cleansing/integration application, not for reporting/analytics purposes. Said application hasn't been fully ported by Merkle yet, however, so I have a hard time calling this a big win yet. Reportedly, however, Merkle is finding analytic uses for their PA system in the interim. I wonder where they'll ultimately land.

More information about what Merkle has done with ParAccel is available in this TDWI webinar if you're interested.

EMC Partnership


ParAccel's partnership with EMC appears to be serving them well. EMC is inviting them to POCs, which can't be a bad thing. This makes imminent sense, really, as any deal won by one of the database vendors with embedded storage (e.g. Netezza, Exasol, Dataupia, etc.) means a deal with no money in it for EMC. I don't know yet, however, how many of those POCs ParAccel has won, though I think there has been at least one.

Technical Tidbits


Though our conversation was sales-and-marketing heavy, I did glean a few interesting technical tidbits.

• ParAccel compiles queries. Given the obvious connection between ParAccel and Netezza this isn't really surprising though.
• ParAccel supports SQL extensions via "custom C functions". I look forward to learning more about this.
• ParAccel uses a proprietary interconnect protocol to reduce packet loss and improve the performance of inter-node communications.
• ParAccel's support for Microsoft and Oracle SQL extensions is strong enough that POCs often involve "no rewriting of SQL".

More information is available in a soon-to-be-released "technical overview" whitepaper. I got a peek, and it's well worth reading - check it out when it becomes available.

Parting Thoughts


I tend to put more emphasis on how somebody says something than what they actually say; something like 90% of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, after all. And while it's certainly a VP of Marketing's job to put on a good face, Kim's general demeanor struck me as unusually relaxed and quietly confident. That, together with their forthrightness about situations where ParAccel isn't faster than the competition, gave me the sense that things are going pretty well for ParAccel. Companies who are confident about their strengths generally don't hide from their weaknesses, in my experience.

Only time will tell.
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