Mobile Clients Require High Performance BI Computing

English: An image of an iPad 2.

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I posted a blog on the SAP site here that discussed the implications of mobile clients. I want to re-emphasize the issue as it is crucial.

While at Greenplum we routinely replaced older EDW platforms and provided stunning performance. I recall one customer in particular where we were given a query that ran in 7 hours and Greenplum executed the query in seven seconds. This was exceptional… more typical were cases where we reduced run-times from several hours to under 30 minutes… to 10 minutes… to 5 minutes. I’m sure that every major competitor: Teradata, Greenplum, Netezza, and Exadata has similar stories to tell.

But 5 minutes will not cut it if you are servicing a mobile client where sub-second response to the device is a requirement… and 10 minutes is out of the question. It does not matter if it ran in 10 hours before… 10 minute response is not acceptable to a mobile device.

Today we see sub-second response delivered to our phones by custom applications built on special high-performance platforms designed specifically to service a mobile client: iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

But what will we do about the BI applications built on commercial platforms which have just used every trick in the book to become one of the 5 minute stories mentioned above?

I think that there are only a couple of architectural choices.

  1. We can rewrite the high-value queries as custom applications using specialized infrastructure… at great expense… and leaving the vast majority of queries un-serviced.
  2. We can apply the 80/20 rule to get the easiest queries serviced with only 20% of the effort. But according to Murphy the 20% left will be the highest value queries.
  3. We can tack on expensive, specialized, accelerators to some queries… to those that can be accelerated… but again we leave too much behind.
  4. Or we can move to a general purpose high performance computing platform that can service the existing BI workload with sub-second response.

In-memory computing will play a role… Exalytics provides option #3… HANA option #4.

SSD devices may play a role… but the performance improvements being quoted by vendors who use SSD as a block I/O device is 10X or less. A 10X improvement applied to a query that was just improved to 10 minutes yields a 1 minute query… still not the expected level of service.

IT departments will have to evaluate the price/performance, not just the price, as they consider their next platform purchases. The definition of adequate response is changing… and the old adequate, at the least cost, may not cut it. Mobile clients are here to stay. The productivity gains expected from these devices is significant. High performance BI computing is going to be a requirement.