The Sybase Analytic Appliance

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The Sybase Analytic Appliance was announced earlier this summer and it will be officially available from early August, but in the United States only. This may seem like a strange decision but it is forced by circumstance rather than design, for reasons I will come to shortly. In any case it will be coming to a salesman near you sometime soon.

The appliance is a genuine hardware/software combination, based on IBM’s Power Series running AIX and as you might expect these come with Sybase IQ already pre-installed. However, Sybase hasn’t stopped there because you also get PowerDesigner for data modelling and Sybase ETL for data movement built-in. And, optionally, you can have MicroStrategy pre-installed for business intelligence purposes. Then there are the technical options such as support for dynamic partitioning, NonStopIQ capabilities, change data capture and PowerVM virtualization. And, on top of all that, you get a single administrative environment for all of this that integrates with the built-in Apache web server.

Wow! That’s a big bundle. You can, of course, use alternate ETL (extract, transform and load) tools, BI tools and data modelling tools if you prefer to do so.

And if that’s not enough the whole thing is priced extremely competitively at around half the price per terabyte of a comparably sized Netezza system and one third the maintenance. And bear in mind that Netezza has roughly the same advantages over Teradata.

Even more wow!

Which brings me to the reason why this will not initially be available outside the United States. This is because everything is being put together by Logica, which will also supply first line support for all users. Sybase needs to find comparable systems integrators as partners that can provide the same service in other geographies. Once it proves a success, as I predict that it will, this should not be a difficult proposition.

Why do I think this will be a success? Well, it’s not actually to do with any of those wow factors. Yes, the appliance bundle is substantial and yes the pricing is attractive but the real issue is Sybase IQ itself and its performance and scalability. The product has these in spades. Also, it supports much greater volumes of raw data (hundreds of terabytes) in a much smaller space (because it is column based and because of compression) than many of its competitors while, at the same time, you can expand a Sybase Analytic Appliance simply by adding more disk, CPU or servers, as required: no need for a swap out once you get to any specific limit.

While much of the attention of the data warehousing market has been focused on Netezza and the other data warehouse appliance vendors over the last few years it is arguable that the real success story has been Sybase IQ, which has substantially increased its user base. Indeed, according to my figures it has more customers that Teradata. With the Sybase Analytic Appliance this trend looks set to continue.