The Boulder BI Brain Trust


March 2010 Archives

XtremeData Discusses Their Analytics Appliance

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XD logo.pngFounded in 2004, XtremeData presents their ideas and products about "Big Data" with Ravi Chandran, CEO/Founder and Geno Valente, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Ravi has a background in parallel processing machine in medical imaging systems. Geno comes from a digital engineering background especially using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) for low latency equity trading. The management team has strong connections with Knightsbridge Consulting, now part of HP.

XD BI-DA.pngGeno started with an overview of their dbX analytics appliance. To be successful in the data appliance market, he emphasized that you need three areas of expertise: computer architecture, database engine internals, and domain knowledge of the analytics space. XtremeData has all three. The computing sub-system for one in four medical CT scanners worldwide was created by the engineering team that is currently at XtremeData. He distinguished between Business Intelligence and Data Analysis (Analytics), which causes considerable discussion whether this distinction was useful to the industry. This chasm between the two categories was motivated by the table at the right. (click for full resolution) There should be a (loosely coupled) closed-loop between the Enterprise systems  with the data analysis system, with strategies generated in the analysis impacts the operational systems via application projects.

XD rack.pngWe continued with a technical description of their dbX analytics appliance, priced at $20K per TB of uncompressed user data and scales from 1 TB to 3.8 PB. XD arch.pngTheir architectural differentiation is the heavy reliance on their FPGA chip that performs a broad spectrum of SQL operations (select/filter, partition, join group, aggregate, distribute). Competitors from this respect are Netezza and Kickfire. Ravi argued that they leverage hardware-assist from the bottom levels of the query parse tree to the higher levels, thus achieving high performance. Deep question by Neil about doing a median calculation had Ravi to explain their internal sort mechanism. FPGA chipsallow 10x performance with 1/3 the power consumption. MapReduce functionality is inherent in the dbX architecture but is implemented as User Defined Functions with C/C++, instead as a separate API. In addition, custom functions can be embedded in the FPGA for special customer requests.

XD config.pngAfter the break, we looked at the various product configuration and key industry trends in hardware storage, servers, network, and database engines. Applications for dbX are: bioinformatics to march and find genomic sequences and financial analysis of US consumer credit data. We got into the processing details that showed good load balancing at each stage.

They share the announcement of the partnership with Cray to produce a Personal Data Warehouse (PDW) appliance with 3 nodes of 5 TB of uncompressed user data, deployed in an office environment. KXEN has their software running in this type of box. We then had a good (confidential) discussion on market positioning of the PDW.  

My Take...

One aspect that impressed me about XtremeData is their intellectual property in FPGA technology. They have a patent on using FPGA as a CPU on standard blade servers ... which means that XtremeData can do much more than SQL processing on Big Data. Some applications in massive image recognition are amazing and could revolutionize the business of major corporations. So, XtremeData is a company to know if your company has complex and specialized analytics on Big Data.

HP emphasizes Business Intelligence Solutions

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HP logo.pngAn overview of the Business Intelligence Solutions (BIS) group of HP was given by John Santaferraro, Senior Director of Marketing Communication and Industry Marketing, plus on the phone was Simone Burrows, Director of Health & Life Sciences Solutions and Rob Simonds, Director of Communications, Media, & Entertainment. He talked about partnerships with Informatica to resell their products "on HP paper" and SAP with integration of NeoView with NetWeaver Business Warehouse. An overview of BIS is given here as a 4-page PDF.

John was asked about the number of NeoView customers. Based it is HP's policy not to report customer numbers at the division level, he was not able to state numbers but mentioned the case of Woolies in Australia as an example of a large retail customer who is publicly pleased with NeoView. In January, HP & Microsoft announced that they have jointly allocated $250M to support joint activities for R&D, product development and go-to-market. These funds came from reallocation from other HP partnership that are of lower priorities (such as Oracle). Using the sensor technology in HP printers, HP is partnering with Shell Oil to apply that technology to high-resolution seismic data collection in drilling operations. As we discussed HP's professional service, the previous Knightsbridge is now part of BIS and offers full-spectrum consulting for a BI implementation, in contrast to EDS whom is relatively independently operated.

He then addressed HP's position for BIS. The key statement is... "HP is a complete provider of enterprise-class, industry-specific, business intelligence solutions." He asked, "What companies can to this?" Merv remarked, "two or three vendors can claim this, but many more vendors can claim that they can deliver a complete set with partnerships. HP is in the latter."

We discussed the organizational fragmentation across HP major groups, such as EDS. John admitted that "it take time" citing the ups/downs of the Compaq acquisition. It is just very difficult process to integrate major acquisition, as Claudia observed.

HP healthcare.pngSimone and Rob gave an overview of BI solutions for the Health and Life Sciences. There are five areas: customer experiences, care management, cost/revenues intelligence, connected healthcare stakeholders, and compliance improvement ...and each solution has different flavors for payers, providers, health services and BioPharma. Simone focused on Care Management area. Given that 10% of patients account for 70% of health expenses, it is important to the insurer and to the healthcare system to monitor processes and outcomes to discover better care procedures. She remarked, "BI-enabled Care Management: solutions from HP is the largest provider of healthcare management services doing 2.5B transactions annually." The example of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Kansas City was cited.

HP Merv.pngDuring the break, Merv was jammin'. He is great!  

John continued with a status report on NeoView, which was mostly confidential. He asked what HP printer and HP NeoView has in common. Neil quipped "Oh God, do I have to change the drives every week?" :) The greatest energy cost is cooling the data center, with the processor boards accounting for 13% of that cooling cost. A NeoView update is scheduled for mid year but the details are confidential. New hardware, in contrast to new software, is driving innovations data warehousing platforms and applications.

John ended with several nuggets of futures for HP. It was mostly questions to ponder, not just from HP's perspective but from a entire industry perspective.
HP logo.pngJohn Santaferraro is Director of Marketing Communications and Industry Marketing for HP and a long time industry leader has many friends in the industry and thats clearly illustrated by todays turnout at the BBBT. In attendance here in Boulder Claudia Imhoff, Lisa Reeves, Holli Arnett, Shawn Rogers, Richard Hackathorn, Dave Imhoff, Merv Adrian, Mark Madsen, Colin White, Steve Dine, Ron Powell and by phone Neil Raden, Jos Von Dongen, Dave Stoddard, Ronald Damhof, Mike Furguson and Mike Brooks. An awesome turnout for a great guy! John kicked things off covering the 3 pillars of the HP BI Solution strategy. 

  1. Platform - Enterprise class analytics
  2. Solution - Industry specific, information focused 
  3. Delivery - New cloud delivery models, onshore offshore delivery, new analytic offerings
2008 and 2009 have been all about change, reorg and moving forward for HP in October 2008 Kristina Robinson took the helm at HP BI and immediately reorganized consulting by industries the group now covers 13 industries with 5 solution managers in place. Additions have been made to the team that include Susan Cook New Sales Executive, the sales teams have been aligned by industry to parallel the investments made in the consulting reorganization and the industry solution managers.

HP seems to be more focused on partnering with companies like Informatica, SAP and Microsoft versus buying technology or building certain things from within. The question is can the pace of innovation within HP coupled with the strength of these partnerships put them back on the map with the big 4 Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and SAP in the business intelligence space. The companies mantra for 2010 is to be seen as a Complete provider of Enterprise Class industry-specific business intelligence solution. As John got into the details its clear that the message is aligned within the company and if they march to this plan HP can and probably will attain the level of notoriety they are striving for in 2010 and beyond.

Simone Burrows Worldwide Health and Life Sciences Marketing lead joined us by phone form Australia to talk about the BI in the healthcare market. The focus for her group is turning healthcare information into healthcare knowledge. The list of solutions for this vertical are impressive. The Blue Cross Blue Shield customer example saved the customer 2.5m annually along with other quantifiable successes. It a great example of applying domain expertise and technology to a problem to deliver real world,mission critical ROI.

As always the upside of the BBBT is indepth briefing for those of us attending the down side is the NDA stuff so I can't share a lot about NeoView but can say that there is a significant upgrade coming down the pipe and from where I sit the upgrades and changes are some of what you would expect and some things that are very very interesting and unexpected. 

I'm a believer that HP can make large strides this year both in real features and function and in perception from the market place. The industry alignment, executive management changes, integration of EDS and KnightsBridge Consulting and focus on business intelligence by Mark Hurd will all play a role in their success.  HP needs to make sure that they share more about the Neoview platforms success so that they aren't slowed down by lack of information and poor perception. 

Thanks John it was a great session!



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