Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Calpont opens up: InfiniDB Open Source Analytical Database (based on MySQL)

Open source business intelligence and data warehousing are on the rise!

If you kept up with the MySQL Performance Blog, you might have noticed a number of posts comparing the open source analytical databases Infobright, LucidDB, and MonetDB. LucidDB got some more news last week when Nick Goodman announced that the Dynamo Business Intelligence Corporation will be offering services around LucidDB, branding it as DynamoDB.

Now, to top if off, Calpont has just released InfiniDB, a GPLv2 open source version of its analytical database offering, which is based on the MySQL server.

So, let's take a quick look at InfiniDB. I haven't yet played around with it, but the features sure look interesting:

  • Column-oriented architecture (like all other analytical database products mentioned)

  • Transparent compression

  • Vertical and horizontal partitioning: on top of being column-oriented, data is also partitioned, potentially allowing for less IO to access data.

  • MVCC and support for high concurrency. It would be interesting to see how much benefit this gives when loading data, because this is usually one of the bottle necks for column-oriented databases

  • Support for ACID/Transactions

  • High performance bulkloader

  • No specialized hardware - InfiniDB is a pure software solution that can run on commidity hardware

  • MySQL compatible

The website sums up a few more features and benefits, but I think this covers the most important ones.

Calpont also offers a closed source enterprise edition, which differs from the open source by offering support for multi-node scale-out support. By that, they do not mean regular MySQL replication scale-out. Instead, the enterprise edition features a true distributed database architecture which allows you to divide incoming requests across a layer of so-called "user modules" (MySQL front ends) and "performance modules" (the actual workhorses that partition, retrieve and cache data). In this scenario, the user modules break the queries they recieve from client applications into pieces, and send them to one or more performance modules in a parallel fashion. The performance modules then retrieve the actual data from either their cache, or from the disk, and sends those back to the user modules which re-assemble the partial and intermediate results to the final resultset which is sent back to the client. (see picture)
Given the MySQL compatibility and otherwise similar features, I think it is fair to compare the open source InfiniDB offering to the Infobright community edition. Interesting differences are that InfiniDB supports all usual DML statements (INSERT, DELETE, UPDATE), and that InfiniDB offers the same bulkloader in both the community edition as well as the enterprise edition: Infobright community edition does not support DML, and offers a bulk loader that is less performant than the one included in its enterprise edition. I have not heard of an InfoBright multi-node option, so when comparing the enterprise edition featuresets, that seems like an advantage too in Calpont's offering.

Please understand that I am not endorsing one of these products over the other: I'm just doing a checkbox feature list comparison here. What it mostly boils down to, is that users that need an affordable analytical database now have even more choice than before. In addition, it adds a bit more competition for the vendors, and I expect them all to improve as a result of that. These are interesting times for the BI and data warehousing market :)


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