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By | Ashlee Vance 29th March 2008 00:52

Meet Datallegro's database crushing appliance

Where $1.1m equals a cheap box

It appears that companies must have unusual names in the data warehousing game. The kind vendors like Datallegro and Teradata at least stick a 'data' right in there to let you know the issue at hand. Tricker players like HP (NeoView) and Netezza do us no such favors. We assume the flashy names are meant to reflect the importance of the task at hand - gathering, processing and sorting large volumes of data at the fastest possible speed.

Like the well-regarded Netezza, Datallegro has tackled the data warehousing job via an appliance. It packages up Dell servers, EMC Clariion storage, Cisco switches and the Ingres database into a large, albeit digestible package. The start-up, birthed in 2003, then layers some homegrown software on top of that package to do the dirtiest data warehousing work.

While Netezza uses custom ASICs and FPGAs to boost performance, Datallegro believes it can meet the performance needs of most customers by running with Xeon-based servers and arranging the hardware to form a MPP (Massive Parallel Processing) computer.

"Netezza, in particular, does a very good job of scanning very large amounts of data," said Jesse Fountain, a marketing VP. "Nobody touches them on overall scan speed."

Fountain, however, argues that Netezza's specialized hardware only excels at a limited number of jobs, leaving the vast majority of data analytics work in Datallegro's wheelhouse.

The basic Datallegro appliance starts with a pair of dual-socket servers (with six disks each) connected to an EMC storage system with room for six mirrored drives in a RAID 1 configuration. Filling out a rack, you end up with 8 servers and 4 storage boxes. The servers all talk to each other via Ifiniband - a big win according to Fountain since Infinband's speed helps avoid data grinding on the network. The Dell hardware taps into the storage units with Fibre Channel connections.

You'll also find an extra Dell server in the rack as a safety against system failures.

Outside of this core set-up, Datallegro does require another Dell PowerEdge 2950 server working as a management system. It also offers up a Landing Zone system, which can manage data loads, pumping the appliance with more than 1TB per hour of information. And then there's a backup system for, well, backup.

A beefy racked-up appliance will run about $1.1m for a 15TB unit with a control server. You can, however, jump into the Datallegro adventure with a smaller configuration that starts at $500,000. The prices include all of the software and backup tools.

Datallegro has an encryption option, if you're into that.

It can also build out a grid model for large customers where a number of appliances that run query jobs turn to a central rack for major data crunching.

You'll find more on the systems here. ®

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