A Rebuttal…

This post has been thrown at me a couple of times now… so I’ll now take the time to go through it… and try to address the junk.

It starts by suggesting that “the Germans” have started a war… but the next sentence points out that the author tossed grenades at HANA two months before the start he suggests. It also ignores the fact that the HANA post in question was a response to incorrect public statements by a Microsoft product manager about HANA (here).

The author suggests some issue with understanding clustered indexes… Note that “There are 2 implementations of xVelocity columnstore technology: 1. Non clustered index which is read only – this is the version available in SMP (single node) SQL Server 2012. 2. Columnstore as a clustered index that is updateable – This is the version available in MPP or PDW version of SQL 2012.”. The Microsoft documentation I read did not distinguish between the two and so I mistakenly attributed features of one to the other. Hopefully this clears up the confusion.

He suggests that the concept of keeping redundant versions of the data… one for OLTP and one for BI is “untrue”… I believe that the conventional way to deal with OLTP and BI is to build separate OLTP and BI databases… data warehouses and data marts. So I stand by the original comment.

The author rightfully suggests that I did not provide a reference for my claim that there are odd limitations to the SQL that require hand-coding… here they are (see the do’s and dont’s).

He criticizes my statement that shared-nothing gave us the basis for solving “big data”. I do not understand the criticism? Nearly very large database in the world is based on a shared-nothing architecture… and the SQL Server PDW is based on the same architecture in order to allow SQL Server to scale.

He is critical of the fact that HANA is optimized for the hardware and suggests that HANA does not support Intel’s Ivy Bridge. HANA is optimized for Ivy Bridge… and HANA is designed to fully utilize the hardware… If we keep it simple and suggest that using hardware-specific instruction sets and hardware-specific techniques to keep data in cache together provide a 50X performance boost [This ignores the advantages  of in-memory and focusses only on hw-specific optimizations… where data in cache is either 15X (L3) or 20X (L2) or 200X (L1) faster than data fetched from DRAM… plus 10X or more using super-computer SIMD instructions], I would ask… would you spend 50X more for under-utilized hardware if you had a choice? SAP is pursuing a distinct strategy that deserves a more thoughtful response than the author provided.

He accuses me of lying… lying… about SQL being architected for single-core x286 processors. Sigh. I am unaware of a rewrite of the SQL Server product since the 286… and tacking on support for modern processors is not re-architecting. If SQL Server was re-architected from scratch since then I would be happy to know that I was mistaken… but until I hear about a re-write I will assume the SQL Server architecture, the architecture, is unchanged from when Sybase originally developed it and licensed it to Microsoft.

He says that HANA is cobbled together from older piece parts… and points to a Wikipedia page. But he does not use the words in the article… that HANA was synthesized from other products and , as stated in the next sentence, built on: “a new application architecture“.  So he leaves the reader to believe that there is nothing new… he is mistaken. HANA is more than a synthesis of in-memory, column-store, and shared-nothing. It includes a new execution engine built on algorithms from the search space… columns in the column store are processed as vectors rather than the rote tuple-by-tuple approach from the 1980’s. It includes powerful in-database support for procedural languages with facilities that convert loops to fully parallel set-based processes. It provides, as noted above, a unique approach to supporting OLTP and BI queries in the same instance (see here)… and more. I’m not trying to hype HANA here… time and the market will determine if these new features are important… but there is no doubt that they are new.

I did not find the Business Intelligist post to be very informative or helpful. With the exception of the Wikipedia article mentioned above there is only unsubstantiated opinion in the piece… … and a degree of rudeness that is wholly uncalled for.

2 thoughts on “A Rebuttal…

  1. I had not read about “columns processed as vectors” or converting “loops to fully parallel set-based processes”. That’s some pretty cool stuff.

    With regards to the post to which you were referring, I took it as comparing my home espresso machine to the commercial unit at Starbucks. SQL Server is a great product for a lot of applications and will be with us for a very long time, especially as MS takes advantage of bigger and better hardware capabilities, and given the investment companies large and small have made in training and tools related to SQL Server.

    My interpretation is that HANA take on another class of enterprise level applications that SQL Server is not ready to handle, and frankly wasn’t designed for.

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