Cloud Computing and Data Warehousing: Part 3 – ParAccel on EC2

In the previous post here I suggested that a SAN-based, cloudy, EDW is about 4X the cost for the same performance over a data warehouse appliance.. and I described why. I have actually seen this comparison.

It is difficult to compare Amazon EC2 hardware to the hardware typically assembled in a shared-nothing EDW cluster whether the hardware is from HP, Dell, Sun, IBM, or Teradata. So let’s assume that Amazon gets a 20% edge due to huge volume purchases over your firm. Note that this is a significant edge since the hardware is a commodity. Further, lets assume that Amazon gets another 30% edge in TCO on system administration costs. This is the cost of staff to manage the Linux OS and the hardware components. This may also be generous to the Amazon side of the equation. The numbers are not important… you can put in whatever seems to model your situation best… if you work for a large efficient company the numbers may go down for EC2.

Lets also assume that you reserve and receive dedicated hardware on EC2. This will not be the case but lets continue to build a best-case scenario for EC2.

From these numbers we can assume that the EC2 configuration will be 3X the cost for the same performance as a dedicated purpose-built database cluster. Again this assumes that the EC2 hardware is dedicated so this number is optimistic.

So why would anyone do this? Because EC2 has no up-front capital expense associated… it is an operating expense. This is significant.

So what is the advantage of buying ParAccel on EC2? I’m unsure. ParAccel has not done particularly well in the marketplace… but it is not clear that this is a technology issue. The answer could lie in the fact that companies deploy ParAccel on EC2 for data mart or application-specific workloads that may not use 100% of the hardware resources provided?

I think that if you work through these three blogs you can get an idea of how to model the opportunity for yourself. If the ability to spend OPEX dollars with Amazon is important… even if you need 3X the hardware… then this is a very interesting way to go.

But do not imagine that you are getting the same performance with ParAccel on EC2 that you wold get with ParAccel on HP or Dell… for a fraction of the price. There is no architectural advantage in ParAccel on EC2 over Vertica or Greenplum or any other DBMS that can run on EC2… ParAccel is, however, trying something new and interesting… if you understand the trade-offs.

In the last blog of this series (here) I’ll discuss some new approaches that may change the game… including another interesting possibility for ParAccel going forward.