Vertica ventures into the cloud

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Vertica has just announced that it is offering its data warehousing technology via the Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud. This is quite a departure. While there are other data warehousing vendors offering hosted warehousing services, Vertica is the first to offer its facilities via cloud computing.

When I first heard about this I have to admit that I was dubious about how much take-up there might be but, having considered it, there are clearly a number of opportunities. The first is for companies offering analytics via a SaaS (software as a service) model: using a cloud-based approach means that they can extend their services without getting involved in building or extending their own data centre.

Secondly, there are small and medium sized companies who do not have the desire or the ability to build and manage a data warehouse of their own; and thirdly, there is a significant market within large enterprises that want a temporary data mart. Normally, you would load one of these up, query the hell out of it for a few weeks or months, and then close it down. But why go to the expense of having that kit hanging around, and the software licenses to go with it?

Finally, while it isn’t a target market per se, a cloud offering gives Vertica a significant advantage when it comes to proofs of concept: implementation is more or less immediate and costs are minimal.

So, how does it all work? Well, actually it’s trivial. There’s no software to install or download; once you’re signed up you start loading your data and once that’s complete you can run your queries, analyses and whatever. You can opt for one, three or multiple processing nodes, as required. Provided you have three or more nodes then you get automated failover. Backup (which is highly compressed, to save on storage) comes as standard and, because Amazon is hosting the software you get Amazon level SLAs and support. Capacity starts at 500 Gb with a monthly fee of $2,000. Discounts apply once you get into the multi-terabyte range.

This is really quite appealing if you are in the right prospective user bracket. What is more, it is difficult to see some of Vertica’s competitors offering the same sorts of capabilities as Vertica, as it requires an architecture predicated on the sort of grid technology used in cloud computing, which Vertica has but many others do not. Incidentally, there is no reason in principle why Vertica could not be implemented on other supplier’s clouds.

I have to admit to not paying much attention to cloud computing prior to this so I am surprising myself by thinking that this looks like it has legs: I can easily envisage Vertica picking up significant numbers of implementations in a market that it effectively has to itself.