Why relational databases make sense for big data

In 2010, the talk about a "big data" trend has reached a fever pitch. "Big data" centers around the notion that organizations are now (or soon will be) dealing with managing and extracting information from databases that are growing into the multi-petabyte range.

This dramatic amount of data has caused developers to seek new approaches that tend to avoid SQL queries and instead process data in a distributed manner. These so-called "NoSQL," such as Cassandra and MongoDB databases, are built to scale easily and handle massive amounts of data in a highly fluid manner.

And while I am a staunch supporter of the NoSQL approach, there is often a point where all of this data needs to be aggregated and parsed for different reasons, in a more traditional SQL data model.

It occurred to me recently that I've heard very little from the relational database (RDBMS) side of the house when it comes to dealing with big data. To that end, I recently caught up via e-mail with EnterpriseDB CEO Ed Boyajian, whose company provides services, support, and training around the open-source relational database PostgreSQL.

Boyajian stressed four points:

1. Relational databases can process ad-hoc queries

Production applications sometimes require only primary key lookups, but reporting queries often need to filter or aggregate based on other columns. Document databases and distributed key value stores sometimes don't support this at all, or they may support it only if an index on the relevant column has been defined in advance.

2. SQL reduces development time and improves interoperability

SQL is, and will likely remain, one of the most popular and successful computer languages of all time. SQL-aware development tools, reporting tools, monitoring tools, and connectors are available for just about every combination of operating system, platform, and database under the sun, and nearly every programmer or IT professional has at least a passing familiarity with SQL syntax.

Even for the types of relatively simple queries that are likely to be practical on huge data stores, writing an SQL query is typically simpler and faster than writing an algorithm to compute the desired answer, as is often necessary for data stores that do not include a query language. … Read more

Ellison, HP keep lid on drama to open Oracle conference

SAN FRANCISCO--The drama was kept to a minimum tonight at the opening event of Oracle OpenWorld, which featured the two players starring in a still-developing Silicon Valley soap opera: Oracle and Hewlett-Packard.

HP typically sends its top executives to keynote the annual Oracle conference here, but there was potential for awkwardness after HP forced former CEO Mark Hurd to resign last month amid scandal and he fled into the arms of his good friend Larry Ellison's company, which happens to be a partner and competitor of HP. Before hiring him, Ellison publicly lashed out against HP's board of … Read more

Verizon and Good boost Android enterprise support

The nation's largest wireless provider has paired up with one of the premier names in the enterprise space to bring business-grade security and management to handsets like the Droid 2, Droid X, and LG Ally. The move will give the carrier a leg up when it comes to attracting business customers who previously worried about security protocols, remote wiping, and general data encryption.

The new solution is based around two components: messaging and control. Good Mobile Messaging will provide personal information management (PIM) and enterprise-class e-mail and Good Mobile Control will allow for over-the-air and on-device encryption of enterprise … Read more

IBM ships 5.2GHz chip, its fastest yet

IBM's newest chip for mainframes boasts one of the highest speed ratings to date and will go into Big Blue's fastest mainframe computers.

IBM, no stranger to cutting-edge chip designs, will use the new 5.2GHz z196 processor in mainframes targeted at businesses managing huge workloads, such as large banks and retailers.

Why the need for more than 5GHz of speed, one of the highest frequencies of any commercial processor to date? IBM cites a study by Berg Insight, showing that the number of active users of mobile banking and related financial services worldwide is forecast to increase from 55 million in 2009 to 894 million in 2015. IBM's customers need all the horsepower they can get to handle these staggering data processing loads.

Big Blue's zEnterprise mainframe technology is the result of an investment of more than $1.5 billion in research and development for the zEnterprise line, as well as more than three years of collaboration with some of IBM's top clients around the world, the company said.

The processor itself packs in four cores, plus a respectable helping of DRAM--what IBM calls eDRAM--inside the processor module. Getting DRAM inside a processor module is quite a trick, as DRAM, or dynamic random access memory, is typically on a separate module inside a computer (just think of the RAM upgrade boards that plug into a PC's motherboard). The patented IBM eDRAM technology allows it to place dense DRAM caches inside its processors, which boosts performance.

Intel, by comparison, has its own very fast mainframe-class server processors, such as the Xeon X7560 processor, which integrates eight cores, in a 2.26GHz processor. Many consumer Intel chips also boast a new technology called Turbo Boost, which dynamically "overclocks" (speeds up) the processor to very high speeds, when needed by an application. (Intel also offers its 4-core Itanium 9300 "Tukwila" processor for high-end servers with 30MB of on-chip cache.) … Read more

Seagate and Samsung to co-develop SSD controller

Seagate and Samsung, the two major makers of hard drives and system memory, announced Thursday that they have entered into a joint development and licensing agreement.

Under this agreement, the two companies will develop and cross-license related controller technologies for solid state drives.

This is interesting; Samsung has released many consumer-grade SSDs, whereas Seagate has recently taken the route of hybrid drive with the release of the Seagate Momentus XT (500GB). The company's first attempt into the SSD market with the Pulsar drive didn't make much of a splash.

According to Seagate, however, the two companies aim to … Read more

Cheque it out

Electronic payment systems continue to evolve, yet traditional checks (also spelled "cheques") remain critical to business and the global economy. Software like Evinco's ChequePrinting.Net 2.8.1 bridges the gap, combining the security and physical record of payment of checks with electronic efficiency and advanced management capabilities in a networked database environment. It lets you print and manage all elements of a check and record and manage the transactions in one interface. It includes some useful extras, too, such as a payment voucher template.

When you first run ChequePrinting.Net, a wizard prompts you to connect … Read more

RIM responds to BlackBerry ban in Middle East

Research In Motion says its customer information is secure despite reports that the company may make some concessions to the United Arab Emirates to loosen up the data security on its BlackBerry networks.

On Sunday, the UAE said it would block e-mail, instant messaging, and Web browsing on BlackBerry devices starting October 11 if it fails to reach an agreement with RIM to bring BlackBerry services in the region in line with UAE telecommunications regulations. Reports also say the Kuwaiti government has asked RIM to cut off access to porn sites, and Saudi Arabia wants RIM's Messenger app shut off.

Facing a ban of key services, RIM is reportedly considering some concessions to address the UAE's concerns over the tight security of the BlackBerry network, according to Reuters, citing reports from several newspapers. The UAE has complained that the strong security used to encrypt the data of BlackBerry customers violates its own regulations and prevents it from monitoring such data in the name of national security.

But on Tuesday, RIM issued a statement to its customers, telling them that their data is secure.

In its statement, the company explained that data on its BlackBerry Enterprise Server network is encrypted so that no one, not even RIM, can access it. RIM added that it would be unable to "accommodate any request for a copy of a customer's encryption key since at no time does RIM, or any wireless network operator, ever possess a copy of the key." The company explained that it doesn't possess a "master key" nor does any "back door" exist that would allow RIM or a third party to gain access to the key or the data.… Read more

Task master

For some professionals, keeping track of what's going on in the workplace is as simple as using the calendar and to-do list in Microsoft Outlook. For others, there are numerous employees, clients, projects, tasks, and details that need to be managed. Easy Tracker 2009 Enterprise - Time & Billing Manager is a comprehensive project management tool that gives both employees and supervisors the tools they need to keep track of what needs to be done and the time spent doing it.

Easy Tracker is actually comprised of a suite of applications, including the Pro and Lite versions and a … Read more

Jive Software makes its social enterprise move

Jive Software is getting cozier with Twitter and Google in an effort to grab the lead in so-called social business.

In a series of deals (statement, Techmeme), Jive said it is putting its software on the Google App Marketplace. in addition, Jive is licensing the Twitter Firehouse and integrating it with its core suite. The general theme: Provide access to 65 million Tweets a day via its social business software.

Add it up and Jive's effort is to be more like a Facebook for the enterprise and integrate real-time data into business apps. Sound familiar? It is. Multiple companies--namely … Read more

VMware teams up with Novell on Suse Linux

VMware will standardize its virtual appliance-based products on Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server, a move intended to help ward off a growing threat from Microsoft.

Under the partnership, announced this week, customers buying certain vSphere licenses will be eligible to receive a subscription to Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) patches and updates for SLES instances deployed in vSphere virtual machines. The companies are also working to make it easier to port SLES-based virtual machines across clouds.

VMware offers virtual appliances--self-contained virtual machines preconfigured with an OS and the application--as a way of making them easier to deploy and maintain. … Read more