An Innocent Abroad

VP product marketing, Acunu

Monday I flew into South Africa for the first time, just a month too   early to watch the footy. That was bad planning, but the reason I’m  here was to launch the partnership with BITanium – our new partner in the  region. The launch was this morning at a very grand hotel on the  outskirts of Johannesburg, I was a bit nervous – this was my Netezza  debut in front of customers, but i shouldn’t have bothered.  After  Calvin Low of Edcon presented there wasn’t much  more that needed saying.

Edcon are our first customer  in South Africa - a major retailing force in the area - who had taken  our ‘Test Drive’ challenge  and went straight ahead with their first project.  And the numbers he  shared with the audience were great. They did a really thorough job on  the Test Drive proof of concept (POC);  they set us up against the  latest version of their existing warehouse and threw a whole spectrum of  their existing queries at it.  The worst performing query ran for 48  hours on the incumbent kit, then fell over. On the Netezza box it ran to  completion in 20 minutes. Another query that had taken 5hrs+ ran in  less than 3 minute on Netezza.

It was funny watching the body  language of some of the audience who had done the ‘raise  eyebrow, lean  back in chair, fold arms, cross legs’ response when Chris O’Connell of  BITanium had put up the old ’10 to 100 times faster’ slide.  When Calvin  had finished with them they were doing the ’lean forward , elbows on  table, chin on fist, stare intently’ posture.

My personal triumph of the day was answering  a serious techie  question on solid state media to the satisfaction of the Netezza SE  & Tech Account Manager who were in the audience (presumably both  doing the ‘bite fingernails, clench buttocks’ response when I launched  into my answer).

Now it’s late after dinner at a Greek restaurant,   discussing  how conventional warehouse designs get so convoluted over time as they  are tuned and tuned to keep up with new demands and increasing data  volumes. The debate was about whether you should clean up the schema  before move it on Netezza or whether you should just lift & shift,  let the Netezza box solve your performance problem and clean up at your  leisure.  In fact we know from experience that clean up often doesn’t  happen, it becomes less of an issue when the knotty performance problems  that led to the design complexity just go away.

By the way it was Greek because of the vegetarian-friendly menu  for one lacto and one pescatarian (me) in the party. You get some funny  looks from the average South African confronted with a vegetarian Meze  for his starter