Archive for September, 2013

Vertica in Private Cloud Deployments

Vertica in Private Cloud Deployments

Ask any CIO what their top priorities are, and cloud deployment is likely to be at the top of the list. While the reasons for deploying internal applications on the cloud is beyond the scope of this post, it is valid to ask why private Cloud deployment is a viable option for a Big Data implementation, and what impacts it will have on the deployment, maintenance and performance of the system.

A strong argument for Private Clouds is the savings in time and capital provided by consolidating all applications on to a single, industry-standard server configuration. This then enables fast procurement procedures, and decreases the time to scale out the infrastructure.

  • Vertica runs on industry-standard x86 hardware, and works with all DAS, SAN and NAS solutions in the marketplace.
  • Vertica is a massively parallel processing (MPP) database, scaling out horizontally through the addition of virtual servers rather than increased hardware per virtual server.

All modern virtualization frameworks provide the ability to quickly deploy a pre-configured VM, or template, into the system. This template encodes the results of tuning, security audits and vendor best practices, ensuring that the new virtual server will work seamlessly in the new environment, and reduce support costs for both the customer and the supplying vendor.

  • Vertica can assist you with building your own templates.
  • Every node in a Vertica database provides the same functionality, so only one template is needed.
  • The Vertica database will remotely install on new nodes, rebalance the data throughout the cluster, and bring the new nodes on-line automatically when they are ready.

Another benefit of virtualization is the ease of maintenance. Is a server sending warning signals? Migrate its workload to another virtual server, pull the malfunctioning hardware, and replace it with new hardware.
In addition to the built-in migration services provided by virtualization vendors, Vertica provides simple migration facilities to replace a faulty node with a fresh node. Because Vertica does not use specialized nodes, any available virtual server in the server pool can be used.

There is no free lunch, and the price for improvements in procurement, deployment and maintenance is slower execution on a given hardware configuration. Most cloud deployments see between 15-30% degradation, depending on the application’s profile.

HP Vertica was built for virtualization. Virtualization’s weaknesses are augmented by Vertica’s strengths. For example, one of the weaknesses of a virtual infrastructure is reduced I/O compared to large DAS arrays. Vertica employs aggressive compression routines to minimize the size of the data on-disk, greatly reducing the I/O requirements of the storage network.

Columnar databases have a natural I/O advantage. In a column store, data for each column in a table is stored separately, so only the data needed to answer the question must be scanned, rather than the full row. Especially with wide tables, Vertica only needs to materialize columns specified in the query.

Due to Vertica’s unique architecture, Vertica is CPU-bound, rather than memory or I/O. Most virtual infrastructures are compute-heavy, a perfect match for Vertica.

Vertica can assist you with building your own templates. We can provide best practices, health checks, and other services to ensure that your configuration is optimized and fully supported.

How Does Vertica Enhance Private Cloud Deployments?

Vertica offers additional improvements for cloud deployments above and beyond those provided by your virtualization product.

Elastic Cluster—You can scale your cluster up or down to meet the needs of your database. The most common case is to add nodes to your database cluster to accommodate more data and provide better query performance. However, you can scale down your cluster if you find that it is overprovisioned or if you need to divert hardware for other uses. Visit our online documentation for additional information on Elastic Clusters.

Tiered Storage Support—Most virtual infrastructures make use of storage pools. The idea is to have pools of disks for different workload profiles: SSDs or fast hard drives for high-performance applications, and slower disks for less critical workloads. Visit our online documentation for additional information on Storage Locations.

Fast Backup and Restore—Vertica stores data in highly compressed files on disk. When doing a backup or restore, Vertica moves these highly compressed files over the network to the backup storage location. This provides an immense reduction in bandwidth on the storage networks. Visit our online documentation for additional information on Vertica’s backup and recovery features.

Fast Data Copying—To make these activities simple and fast, Vertica employs the same mechanisms for moving tables between databases as it does for backup and recovery: highly compressed data files are copied between the databases. Each node in the Vertica cluster sends copies of its data to the remote database in parallel, enabling movement of several terabytes per minute in large clusters. Visit our online documentation for additional information on fast data copy.

Final Thoughts

While slower performance may hinder some cloud based deployments, the HP Vertica Analytics Platform implements a number of design features and architectural decisions that complement today’s private cloud environments. Learn more about how HP Vertica handles data faster and more reliably than any other database within public and virtualized enterprise cloud environments.

How MZI HealthCare identifies big data patient productivity gems using HP Vertica

As part of our continuing podcast series, Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst for Interarbor Solutions, recently conducted an interview with Greg Gootee, product manager at MZI HealthCare.   MZI HealthCare develops and provides sophisticated software solutions that are flexible, reliable, cost effective, and help reduce the complexities of the healthcare industry.

In a post on ZDNet, Dana shares some of the highlights from his podcast with Greg Gootee:

Doctors make informed decisions from their experience and the data that they have. So it’s critical that they can actually see all the information that’s available to them.

The other critical thing was speed, being able to deliver high-end analytics at the point of care, instead of two or three months later, and Vertica really produced. In fact, we did a proof of concept with them. It was almost unbelievable some of the queries that ran and the speed at which that data came back to us.

The ability to expand and scale the Vertica system along with the scalability that we get with the Amazon allows us to deliver that information. No matter what type of queries we’re getting, we can expand that automatically. We can grow that need, and it really makes a large difference in how we could be competitive in the marketplace.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

Deeper intelligence shared widely harvests analytics gems for GUESS

Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst for Interarbor Solutions, recently conducted a podcast with Bruce Yen, director of Business Intelligence at GUESS, Inc. and an HP Vertica customer.  GUESS is a worldwide retailer of fashions and accessories, with hundreds of bricks-and-mortar stores worldwide, as well as an online presence for many of their brands.

In a story written for ZDNet, Dana shares some of the highlights from his podcast.  Here are a few key quotes from Bruce from the podcast that were shown in the ZDNet story:

In being able to give our users a holistic 360-degree view of what’s happening from that customer standpoint, Vertica has been very critical in keeping pace and enabling us to do that.

We’re pretty innovative in what we do from a mobile standpoint. For the last two years, we’ve had an iPad app that’s powered by the Vertica back end. We have this iPad app that over 100 merchants in North America and Europe use.

The exciting thing is it’s kind of democratized this information and this data and demystified it to a point where everyone can access it and everyone wants to access it. I’ve never seen users get so excited about a platform or an app.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

HP Vertica Intern Program – No Coffee Runs Required

“No one asked me to fetch coffee for them.” —HP Vertica 2013 summer intern

Does anyone really ask an intern to go for coffee these days? Lucky for the intern I mentored this summer, I don’t drink coffee.

When I arrived at HP Vertica in July 2012, one of the first things I noticed was the great summer intern program. The interns were fully integrated into life at HP Vertica, developing features for the product, participating in design discussions, and giving presentations about their work. As a group, they had a great camaraderie, working hard while having fun.

When the opportunity presented itself, I volunteered to be a mentor for the summer of 2013. The documentation team has an intern every summer, and luckily for us, last year’s summer intern is now a permanent member of our team. I was helping out the team by volunteering….but really I wanted to join in the fun that the interns and mentors have.

Adam Seering did a great job organizing the intern program this summer, managing the recruitment of mentors and the development interns, and letting us know what was expected of us mentors: good communication, meaningful work assignments, and a positive attitude. We want HP Vertica interns to go back to their universities and tell people what a great workplace we have. Some of our best hires have been former interns and friends of former interns!

Of course, we want our interns to work hard, but with this summer’s interns hailing from Georgia, California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, and, of course, Massachusetts, we really wanted them to experience Boston. Our first outing was a trip to see the movie Star Trek Into Darkness. As the summer progressed, we climbed the Great Blue Hill in Milton, visited the MIT Museum, hosted an ice cream party on one of the hottest summer days, went horseback riding, and celebrated the summer with a lakeside party at Shilpa’s house. Most of the interns rode on inflated tubes behind a power boat on Forge Pond, with CSE’s Alex Jackson steering the boat in an effort to knock them off!

Oh, and the interns did some real work as well. They worked on interesting projects that are important to the company, and they shared their work with the rest of the organization. The most common theme I heard was, “Everyone at HP Vertica is happy to take the time to answer my questions.” Near the end of the summer, Sumeet Keswani organized a coding competition to see who could design the coolest app for HP Vertica’s AMI. First prize was a toy light saber, which Tech Support director Amy Miller had to try out before passing it on to the winner, Wei, an RPI grad student who developed a cool app called “Tweetica,” which collected and analyzed tweets. (Did you know that the most trending topic in the Boston area is the Red Sox? If not, you should have guessed that!)

In August, Boston was the site of HP Vertica’s first annual Big Data Conference. The marketing interns focused on this event—planning, recruiting volunteers, registering attendees, handling communications, talking to customers at the event, and in general, making sure everything ran smoothly. Their contributions were a big reason why the conference was so successful.

Vicki, our documentation intern, arrived from southern California, to daily rain followed by two weeks of heat and humidity. What she learned about Boston weather: “I have to bring an umbrella every day.” In addition to writing traditional documentation, she produced a great video about the intern program itself, which you can see for yourself below. She had a great time filming and editing it, and the interns enjoyed participating.

We will start recruiting for the 2014 summer interns this fall. Keep an eye out at

InternVideo2013 from Vertica Systems on Vimeo.

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