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Recurring Revenue: Article

What’s Larry Gonna Do About This?

Kickfire is targeting the mid-market below where Netezza and Teradata play

Startup Journal on Ulitzer

Kickfire, the data warehouse start-up with its very own parallel-processing SQL chip – and the first low-end data warehouse play ever – has beefed up its MySQL Enterprise-based appliance so it’ll stretch to systems that are 5TB.

Back in the spring when it started rolling its widgets out they were good for up to 3TB and started at $32,000, claiming to be the equivalent of a $250,000 proprietary system.

The start-up has also beefed up its software with a 1.5 so-called “Photon” release that ups performance by running 95% of the queries through its SQL chip and makes its Data Manipulation Language (DML) 300% faster.

Kickfire is targeting the mid-market below where Netezza and Teradata play, the region where SQL Server doesn’t scale, DB2 is minimally present and Oracle is too costly and complex.

It’s aiming at the MySQL base that doesn’t buy much software support but does spend about half-a-billion dollars a year on data warehousing hardware.

The world has kinda changed since Kickfire announced its first systems and was scratching its head over why in the world Sun, who owns MySQL, had canceled all its reference arrangements and foresworn any new ones.

That was right before Oracle said it was buying Sun, proposing to turn Sun boxes into Oracle appliances.

Obviously this is a space worth watching. (Ah, the smell of M&A in the morning.)

Anyway, according to Kickfire CEO Bruce Armstrong (pictured above), a Teradata vet, “The vast majority of data warehouse professionals need affordable high-performance data warehousing at the terabyte-scale, especially given recent reductions in budget. Other vendors who are focused on petabyte-scale data warehouses force users into expensive and resource-intensive technologies. Our breakthrough parallel-processing SQL chip delivers the industry’s best performance per dollar, per watt and per cubic foot. We’re focused on helping the thousands of organizations that would have otherwise deferred projects due to cost.”

Kickfire claims as new customers Mindspark, the IAC division, and LiveRail, a rising star in the video ad server market and a MySQL devotee. It says it’s increased their data warehouse performance by up to 500 times.

“Enterprise customers that need to increase performance, but don’t want to spend another million dollars to do it,” Armstrong chirped.

Kickfire’s also got Clear Peak, the technology consultancy whose managers include Teradata founder Jerry Modes as well as Ernst & Young, Nikon, Cigna, AT&T, Dish Network, Comcast and Feed the Children.

Besides being the lowest-cost appliance on the market, Kickfire claims its new high-performance 3000 series is the fastest to deploy – less than a day because of a streamlined Migration Wizard that moves data from the source by pointing-and-clicking and a faster Loader.

Besides increased capacity, it also includes more enterprise-class features such as high-availability, query-while-load and a RAID card for external storage.

The 2000 Series, wheeled out in the spring, was limited to on-board storage and up to 2.4TB of disk compared to the 3000’s 14.4TB of disk.

The 2000, which starts at $32k, was meant for test, development and small data warehouses. The 3000, which starts at $150k, or $10k a terabyte, is aimed at mid-range data warehouses.

IDC says two-thirds of all data warehouses are in the sub-5TB range and that MySQL is the third most frequently used database for data warehousing. There are 12 million active MySQL installations, roughly 25% of which are doing data warehousing. However, the low end is not only price-sensitive, it typically lacks warehousing expertise or IT resources.

Kickfire quotes IDC VP, business analytics solutions research Dan Vesset as saying that he expects the new Kickfire product “to find a receptive audience among many organizations looking to boost their data warehousing and business analytics capabilities while controlling their initial and ongoing costs of such a solution."

Kickfire’s chips, each said to be the equivalent of 10 servers, pack the power of 30 CPUs into a small (2U-3U), low-power (650W) form factor, avoiding the hardware build-out, power and datacenter space required by rival offerings.

It Centos-based appliance also includes a columnar engine that reportedly cuts the disks required by rivals by 90%. It replaces MySQL’s own storage engine and structures data like columns rather than the traditional rows. That’s supposed to mean better compression and better ad-hoc query performance because only the columns being queried – not all the rows – have to be scanned.

The widget can plug into an existing ETL and BI infrastructure. The company has open source partnerships with Jaspersoft, Pentaho and Talend.

Kickfire is backed to the tune of $20 million by Accel Partners, Greylock Partners, the Mayfield Fund

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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