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Q&A with Colin White on Data Management Appliances


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Hello this is Tamara Graves of Dataupia and it is my pleasure to spend a few minutes talking with Colin White about his research on Data Management Appliances.

Q. Can you please share with us your definition of a data warehouse appliance?
A. I think initially you need to look at what an appliance represents-a packaging of components together to make them easy to install, support and use-and then another function of an appliance is that it is tailored and optimized for a certain type of processing. A data warehouse appliance then represents a packaging of various components together to support data warehousing and specifically business intelligence processing. Typically they are optimized to do analytical processing.
Q. In doing your research did you find that there is more than one type of data warehouse appliances?
A. Well I think there are multiple appliances in the industry they typically represent a packaging of components. In some cases those components may be a combination of hardware and software and that's really a packaged hardware/software appliance. Other vendors offer what I call a software appliance which offers a packaging of the software components like the operating system, database and things like that. A third kind of appliance is a virtual appliance where you can simulate the appliance running on many different systems. And then when you look at the data warehousing space you see similar options. You see packaged hardware and software appliances, you see packaged software appliances and you are starting to see virtual appliances.
Q. What would you say is the most common question you are asked about data warehouse appliances?
A. I think people get confused. There are two things confusing them...
One topic is around the kind of questions that you have asked me... what is an appliance, what is its purpose, and the type of packaging of appliance. It is interesting; you introduced a session about data management appliances. I think actually that many so called data warehouse appliances are really data management appliances. They are dedicated towards database processing and doing it efficiently, particularly data warehousing, business intelligence and analytical processing. So, most are headed to data management tailored for data warehousing and if you look at it from that perspective it makes it easier. People are confused by the definition. Some people call them data warehouse appliances, some people call them data appliances, some people call them data management appliance but basically they are trying to focus on the single function of doing data warehousing more efficiently, with performance at lower cost.

The other question that gets asked a lot is if you look at the market place it breaks into two groups-the traditional vendors that in the past have produced a number of different hardware and software components that have seen competition from a newer set of vendors and are trying to react to that competition with better data warehouse appliances. Then you have new vendors like Dataupia who are appearing on the market place who are really building appliances from the ground up dedicated towards data warehousing. We have two competing marketplaces and people get a little bit confused as to whether it is better to go with a traditional vendor and buy one of their appliances or does it pay to go with one of the newer vendors. And if so, what advantages do they bring?
Q. What would you say is a key take away from the whitepaper that people could walk away with?
A. I think the whitepaper really explains the questions we have been discussing. What is an appliance, what is a data warehouse and data management appliance? The kind of things you are looking for when selecting those appliances. Really the considerations of which ones to choose and even more importantly looking at the business benefits of using the appliance type approach.

Very good! Thank you so much for sharing just a few of your insights on data management appliances. In order to get all of the details, please be sure to download the whitepaper in its entirety here.