Kognitio Regroups, Refocuses

Kognitio says it has two things going for it as it prepares to tackle Wall Street: a next-gen spin on OLAP and WX2, its Big Data, in-memory DBMS.

Sean Jackson, vice president of marketing for analytic database specialist Kognitio, wants to get one thing straight: his company, which journalists, market-watchers, and others of the chattering classes like to describe as an "English" or "UK-based" player, is really nothing of the sort.

Yes, Kognitio was founded in the UK, and, yes, Jackson concedes, the company's worldwide headquarters is still in Bracknell, UK. However, Kognitio is betting big on succeeding in the American market.

"The U.S. is critical to our success. If we ever have to retrench on the U.S. [market], I think we'd just have to turn the lights off," Jackson avers.

At the same time, he concedes, Kognitio hasn't exactly taken the U.S. market by storm: 42 months after launching at TDWI's 2008 World Conference in Las Vegas, Kognitio is a competitive player -- and it even enjoys a kind of notoriety, along with early-wave rival Dataupia Inc., as a stalwart analytic database independent. However, it doesn't have close to the cachet of a Netezza, a Greenplum, or even a late-comer such as Vertica. "We had a slow start, but I've seen more traction in just the last five to six months than I did over the first few years. I really think that's because we've clarified our branding strategy," Jackson says.

Until recently, Kognitio's branding was too technologically focused, he argues. "The biggest issue we've had anywhere in the world is brand. We've now got a clear strategy [where we say] 'We're agile, we're nimble, we're quick to respond to customer's needs.' Equally, our strategy is to focus on selling -- on selling into specific target areas, whether [these areas are] vertical [markets] or systems integrators, and just let the brand take care of itself."

Kognitio Takes Manhattan

One vertical Kognitio plans to make a strong run at is financial services.

In a sense, Pablo, a virtual OLAP facility for its WX2 analytic database, was the opening salvo in Kognitio's Wall Street offensive.

Company officials started talking about Pablo this February, promising nothing less than an alternative to OLAP -- at least as it's understood, practiced, and managed in most organizations today. "One of the problems with a traditional OLAP approach is data latency. The problem with extracting data and transforming it is that it takes time to actually carry out that operation. In some cases, a cube can take hours to build," Jackson told BI This Week at the time.

Pablo promised a faster, more manageable, altogether more agile approach to cubes, Jackson maintained. "What we're doing is transformations on the fly through views. We're not not doing the transformations, we're just not doing them on physical disks. By doing it on the fly with views, we're [able to] keep everything in memory. We then instantiate those views [and] hardwire them into memory. That process, rather than taking minutes or hours (which it normally takes) will typically take 10 seconds," he explained.

In mid-September, Kognitio plans to take its case directly to Big Finance by convening two one-day "Virtual Cubes" seminars in Manhattan -- one in mid-town, the other in the financial district itself. "The idea is to take our pitch directly to the financial crowd," he says, adding that Steve Millard, Kognitio's new senior vice president of sales for North America, "believes when we get our first customer on Wall Street, others [i.e., Wall Street customers] will quickly follow."

Jackson says Kognitio has at least two things going for it as it prepares to pitch to Big Finance: Pablo and its next-gen spin on OLAP and a Big Data, MPP, in-memory DBMS in the form of WX2. Although Kognitio's past marketing of WX2 might've been "too technically-focused" -- "it was all about in-memory, shared-nothing," Jackson says -- he doesn't want WX2 and its Big Data brawn to take a back seat to Pablo and virtual cubes.

In effect, he doesn't want Kognitio to be perceived as too Cubist.

"Pablo is just a feature of the database, not a standalone product. It needs the in-memory capability of WX2 to function. It's not like we're just selling Pablo for Oracle or Pablo for DB2," he points out.

Although that isn't such a bad idea, he concedes.

"That's maybe down the road. We've already discussed [the idea of having] 'cartridges' -- a version of Pablo that plugs into Microsoft's Analysis Services, for example, so we're talking about that -- but that's way down the road."