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Also posted on: The IM Blog
It’s been a long time coming but Calpont has finally come to market with InfiniDB. Actually, it launched the open source Community Edition of the product last year but now it is introducing the commercial Enterprise Edition. There is, essentially, only one difference between the two versions and this is that the former runs on a single server only (as big as you like, with no constraints and all the features of the Enterprise Edition) while the latter runs across multiple servers. Calpont refers to the former as offering scale-up and the latter as scale-out.
Of course, there are some practical differences between the two editions but these only apply because of the supported architectures. Thus, there is no high availability option for the Community Edition; similarly, you can’t deploy the distributed cache from the Enterprise Edition and you can’t use parallel loading capabilities beyond the multi-threading supported by the Community Edition. But apart from the limitations of having a single server there are no differences.
The actual product itself is a column-based relational database with a MySQL front end. The secret sauce is what is known as the Extent Map. This is a metadata layer that sits over the data and which learns, retains and uses patterns that exist within the data in order to optimise I/O. It is particularly relevant where there are natural patterns within the data such as all data being time-stamped, so the product will be well suited to log management, telco call analysis, financial trading environments, web analytics and so on. The Extent Map also records information such as maximum and minimum values, number of entries and so on so that certain types of queries (for example, count queries) can be performed without requiring any I/O at all.
The real kicker is the pricing, which is $11,995 per node with discounts for 11 or more MPP nodes. According to the company this works out at between $4,000 and $7,000 per terabyte. Moreover, this is not a subscription licensing model; this is a one-time license fee, though of course you have to add maintenance and running costs. However, this way undercuts the market, even bearing in mind that some competitors can offer better compression ratios and will therefore require less disk space and therefore reduced hardware and software costs. Moreover, Calpont also offers a discount for six one-node instances (which they refer to as an Analytics 6-pack) with the intention of picking up data mart business in larger enterprises.
Calpont is late to the market and it has competitors that are already established. Nevertheless, the market is buoyant and I don’t think it is too late, particularly given the product’s performance (there are some independent benchmarks that have been run against other open source products in which the company did well—but this only applies to the Community Edition), its pricing and its positioning (in conjunction with MySQL). Put these together and InfiniDB should provide some serious competition to its more established rivals.