REVIEWER: Krish Krishnan, appliance channel expert, O’Reilly Media.

BACKGROUND: O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazine and conferences since 1978. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making and evangelism. Long the information source of choice for technologists, the company now also delivers the knowledge of expert early adopters to everyday computer users.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Master nodes: 2x Dual-Core AMD Opteron 280 (2.4GHz) processors, 4GB RAM, 1x 3Ware 9550SX-4LP 4-Port SATA RAID controller, 4x Western Digital RE2 400GB drives. Segment nodes: 1x Dual-Core AMD Opteron 250 (2.4GHz) processor, 16GB RAM, 2x 3Ware 9550SX-8LP 8-port SATA RAID controllers,16x Western Digital RE2 400GB drives.

PROBLEM SOLVED: O’Reilly has long used data analysis to assess and guide its business. O’Reilly’s research group has used Greenplum Database for nearly two years to analyze large data sets to spot trends and understand technology markets. O’Reilly analyzes a number of data sources to flush out technology trends and more accurately predict interest in specific technologies. Prior to using Greenplum, some of their queries took more than 10 hours to complete, and many queries took longer than the normal flow of thought to finish. Because queries were slow, the O’Reilly team could not take on as many analysis projects as it would have liked , and had to settle for less. Once the database was migrated to the Greenplum platform, queries that ran for hours ran in minutes. With Greenplum, O’Reilly analysts and internal users can complete their projects faster, dig deeper into the data and take on more projects. O’Reilly can run all the queries they need to best learn from the data, and they can focus on the business understanding they are trying to gain without having to worry about performance tuning or arcane database configurations.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Greenplum’s shared-nothing architecture delivers better performance that continues to scale as their data stores grow. O’Reilly’s migration costs and time were minimal, and, because Greenplum is based on PostgreSQL, integration of Greenplum with O’Reilly’s existing load and data access tools was seamless. Greenplum query performance has changed the way O’Reilly handles analyzing large data sets. Analysts went from running one query per day to iterating through multiple queries per hour.

STRENGTHS: With their large, unstructured and ever-growing data sets, O’Reilly needed a database that provides rapid load and query performance at a low cost. Greenplum cost much less than competing proprietary databases. Greenplum is based on an open source standard, PostgreSQL. The switching costs were minimal; O’Reilly was able to quickly convert their extract, transform and load (ETL) process and their queries to the Greenplum platform. Using PostgreSQL allows Greenplum to focus on parallelism and speed, reliability and advanced features instead of basic database functionality.

WEAKNESSES: Greenplum’s 18 months of commercial availability is less than long-established competitors. Although Greenplum may not have all the bells and whistles of some other products, it fulfills the core value proposition extremely well, and new relevant features, often based on requests from the user community, are regularly added to the product.

SELECTION CRITERIA: O’Reilly is careful about how it spends money on software. Greenplum’s level of innovation and performance was high enough and price low enough that O’Reilly made the decision to purchase a Greenplum license.

DELIVERABLES: The key deliverable was to satisfy the requirements of the business with timely and accurate data. O’Reilly has been successfully executing this since moving to the Greenplum platform. VENDOR SUPPORT: O’Reilly has received timely and effective customer support from Greenplum the few times we’ve needed help. Overall, we’re impressed with how reliable and trouble free our implementation has been. As an early customer, we’ve gotten to know the founders and lead engineers. They behave more like partners than the typical vendor relationship.

DOCUMENTATION: Greenplum’s core documentation is quite good. The company is adding more guides over time. Because O’Reilly is very hands on with technology and because the Greenplum Database is very reliable, O’Reilly rarely needs to reference the documentation or contact Greenplum support.

Greenplum Database
1900 South Norfolk Drive
Suite 224
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 286-8012

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