Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Delphix Is A Disruptive Database Virtualization Start-up To Watch

This is my second post on my impressions from the Under The Radar conference. Check out the first post on NoSQL.

Virtualization is not cloud computing. However virtualization has significant potential when it is used to achieve cloud-like characteristics such as elasticity, economies of scale, accessibility, simplicity to deploy etc. I have always believed that the next wave of cloud computing is going to be all about solving “special” problems on the cloud – I call it a vertical cloud. These vertical problems could be in any domain, technology stack, or industry. Raw computing has come long way. It is about the right time we do something more interesting with the raw cloud computing.

Delphix is attempting to solve a specific problem - database virtualization. I met the CEO Kaycee Lai and the VP of sales Jedidiah Yueh at Under The Radar reception the night before. They have great background in understanding the cost and flexibility issues around de-duplication from their days at EMC. They have assembled a great team including Alok Srivastava from Oracle who ran Oracle RAC engineering prior to joining Delphix. Most large database deployments have multiple copies of single database that customers use for purposes beyond production such as staging, testing, and troubleshooting. This replication is expensive from process, resources, and storage perspective and takes long time to provision instances. The founders saw this problem first hand at EMC and decided to solve it.

At the core their offering is a read-write snapshot of a database. That’s quite an achievement. The snapshots are, well, snapshots. You can’t modify them. When you make this compromise they occupy way less space. Delphix took the same concept but created the writable snapshots and a seemingly easy to use application (I haven’t used it) that allows quick de-duplication based on these snapshots. You can also go back in time and start your instance from there.

Delphix has great value proposition in the database virtualization - help the customers reduce their hardware and people – DBA and system administrators - cost at the same time accelerate the IT processes. I like their conscious decision not to go after the backup market. Sometimes you have a great product but if it is marketed in the wrong category with vendors fighting in the red ocean you could die before you can grow. They had the best pitch at the conference – very calm, explaining the problem, articulating the value proposition, emphasizing right people on the team, and identifying the target market. If you are an entrepreneur (or even if you are not) check out their pitch and Q&A. There is a lot you can learn from them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Disruptive Cloud Computing Startups At Under The Radar - NoSQL - Aspirin, Vicodin, and Vitamin

It was great to be back at Under The Radar this year. I wrote about disruptive cloud computing start-ups that I saw at Under The Radar last year. Since then the cloud computing has gained significant momentum. This was evident from talking to the entrepreneurs who pitched their start-ups this year. At the conference there was no discussion on what is cloud computing and why anyone should use it. It was all about how and not why. We have crossed the chasm. The companies who presented want to solve the “cloud scale” problems as it relates to database, infrastructure, development, management etc. This year, I have decided to break down my impressions into more than one post.

NoSQL has seen staggering innovation in the last year. Here are the two companies in the NoSQL category that I liked at Under The Radar:

Northscale was in stealth mode for a while and officially launched four weeks back. Their product is essentially a commercial version of memcached that sits in front of an RDBMS to help customers deal with the scaling bottlenecks of a typical large RDBMS deployment. This is not a unique concept – the developers have been using memcached for a while for horizontal cloud-like scaling. However it is an interesting offering that attempts to productize an open source component. Cloudera has achieved a reasonable success with commercializing Hadoop. It is good to see more companies believing in open source business model. They have another product called membase, which is a replicated persistence store for memcached – yes, a persistence layer on top of a persistence layer. This is designed to provide eventual consistency with tunable blocking and non-blocking I/Os. Northscale has signed up Heroku and Zynga as customers and they are already making money.

As more and more deployments face the scaling issues, Northscale does have an interesting value proposition to help customers with their scaling pain by selling them an aspirin or vicodin. Northscale won the best in category award. Check out their pitch and the Q&A:

GenieDB is a UK-based start-up that offers a product, which allows the developers to use mySQL as a relational database as well as a key-value store. It has support for replication with immediate consistency. Few weeks back I wrote a post - NoSQL is not SQL and that’s a problem. GenieDB seems to solve that problem to some extent. Much of the transactional enterprise software still runs on an RDBMS and depends on the data being immediately consistent. The enterprise software can certainly leverage the key-value stores for certain features where RDBMS is simply an overhead. However using a key-value store that is not part of the same logical data source is an impediment in many different ways. The developers want to access data from single logical system. GenieDB allows table joins between SQL and NoSQL stores. I also like their vertical approach of targeting specific popular platforms on top of mySQL such as Wordpress and Drupal. They have plans to support Rails by supporting ActiveRecord natively on their platform. This is a vitamin, if sold well, has significant potential.

They didn’t win any prize at the conference. I believe it wasn't about not having a good product but they failed to convey the magnitude of the problem that they could help solve in their pitch. My advice to them would be to dial up their marketing, hone the value proposition, and set up the business development and operations in the US. On a side note the founder and the CEO Dr. Jack Kreindler is a “real” doctor. He is a physician who paid his way through the medical school by building healthcare IT systems. Way to go doc! Check out their pitch and the Q&A:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Case You Didn't Know Twitter Is Growing Fast - Very Very Fast

I have been following the Chirp conference today where Evan Williams, who goes by @ev, disclosed Twitter growth numbers in his keynote and shared their pains, gains, and priorities. We all know that Twitter is growing fast – very, very fast – but here is the summary of those numbers that tells us what that growth actually looks like:

  • 105 million registered users and they add 300k uses every day
  • 3 billion API request a day (equivalent to Yahoo traffic)
  • 55 million new tweets every day
  • 600 million search queries every day
  • 175 employees
  • 75% traffic comes from third party clients
  • 60% tweets come from third party clients
  • 100,000 registered apps
  • 180 million unique visitors on Twitter.com (you don’t have to be a user)
  • FlockDB, their social graph database that they just open sourced, stores 13 billion edges
  • They started using “Murder” a new BitTorrent platform to transfer files during development. This reduced the transfer time from 40 minutes to 12 seconds
  • Made deals with 65 (telco) carriers
  • 37% of active users use Twitter on their phone (@ev wants this number to be 100%)