Infobright Introduces Open Source Analytic Data Warehouse

Infobright shipped its BrightHouse open source data warehouse and announced an investment from Sun Microsystems

The data warehousing market is crowded with established players, appliance upstarts, and data warehousing pure-plays. Add to that growing interest in open source options.

Infobright Inc. week trumpeted a couple of coups. First, it has released its open source BrightHouse analytic data warehouse (DW) -- Infobright Community Edition (ICE) -- and a venture capital investment from MySQL steward Sun Microsystems Inc. Infobright spins ICE as a mostly unfettered version of Brighthouse that scales to support implementations between 500 GB and 30 TB. It includes most of the amenities of Brighthouse Enterprise Edition -- including a massively parallel processing (MPP) capability --but is missing that product's accelerated loading and insert update features.

ICE is no gimmick. Infobright is making all of the source code for its Brighthouse DW implementation -- which officials say actually comprises a kind of commingling of Brighthouse with the MySQL RDBMS (it's not just a layer on top of MySQL) -- available via ICE. Officials also released testimonials from commercial open source vendors, including MySQL, JasperSoft, and Pentaho.

The news is propitiously timed. Several of Infobright's competitors recently trumpeted attention-grabbing news of their own. This week, for example, DW appliance pioneer Netezza inc. announced the availability of new geospatial capabilities for its NPS systems, and Kognitio -- another DW trailblazer -- signed a deal with data mining specialist KXEN Inc.

Why open source now? Infobright CEO Miriam Tuerk says her company's business plan always included an open source component. "It's been percolating all along. The decision to launch [Brighthouse] as a Community Edition was always on our radar, but it is a very naked process. There is no hiding under a rock. We felt that it was important that with dozens of different entrants offering capabilities in the marketplace that we really have a few solid customers and a solid track record before we announced [an open source version of our software]," she comments.

Tuerk dismisses talk that Infobright's adoption of open source is linked to (or a condition of) Sun's move to take an equity stake in the firm. "That was not a condition of their [Sun's] decision," she says, stressing that Infobright had been working toward such an end "for a while" and that the timing "just sort of worked out."

The Open Source Move

A veteran industry watcher who spoke on condition of anonymity sees Infobright's open source move as an about-face of sorts.

"I remember them saying they … weren't going to be open source themselves because there was no reason to open up all [of] their core [intellectual property]," observes the analyst who is familiar with the open source BI landscape. "[It] sounds like maybe the crowded market got to them and they're hoping to use this to get broad adoption in MySQL houses and convert them to paying customers the same way MySQL did, or angle for an acquisition by Sun."

Martin Mickos, a MySQL veteran and a senior vice-president with Sun's Database Group, says the decision to take an equity stake in Infobright was -- more than anything else -- just a "great" investment opportunity.

"We make investments where we think it makes great sense. [MySQL had] been partnering with Infobright already when we got acquired by Sun. We always had a very active partnering program," Mickos comments.

"Why did we invest now in Infobright? It goes back to the notion that we find this an interesting space of the market. From Sun's perspective, data warehousing requires storage, data warehousing requires servers, and, of course, data warehousing is very database-dependent, so Infobright seemed like a great investment."

Mickos dismisses the idea that Sun's equity stake is, in fact, a prelude to an eventual acquisition overture.

"Overall, when you look at the data warehousing market … you'll see a market for large data warehouses of about 1 TB to about 30 TB, and that's where we work with Infobright, but we're not exclusive. At the greater-than-30-TB range, that's where we work with GreenPlum," he says. "We want all of our partners to succeed, and there's no exclusivity. We just found that Infobright was a very interesting company to make an investment with and to work closely with."

Breaking the ICE

Much like open source ETL specialist Talend Inc. -- which markets an "Open Studio" edition of its ETL software -- Infobright positions ICE as a quick-and-dirty option for database administrators who need to solve one-off problems.

"The community edition is really targeted to be this sort of toolkit that a DBA can just go and get [up and running] in five minutes," Tuerk explains, "so it's really a toolkit that lets [DBAs] do one-off analytics, testing, or other tasks. Our intention is to provide a fast, easy way to do the one-off analytics that [DBAs are] getting asked to do by the business every day. The DBA of today is having to create new indexes, build a data mart, build out a cube -- things like that."

Conversely, Infobright pitches Brighthouse Enterprise as an option for customers who want to build out a scalable data warehouse infrastructure.

"Customers will come to buy the Enterprise package for many reasons. Many companies get that you still have to buy support and get support and service from a vendor, even when you're using a Community Edition. Anyone in the community will tell you that open source doesn't mean that it's free. It just depends on where you want to put your costs," she points out.

Tuerk also touts Brighthouse Enterprise's faster loading times (it's approximately twice as fast as ICE) and Insert Update support.

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