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Which SQL on Hadoop? Poll Still Says “Whatever” But DBMS Providers Gain

By Merv Adrian | February 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

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Since Nick Heudecker and I began our quarterly Hadoop webinars, we have asked our audiences what they expected to do about SQL several times, first in January 2014. With 164 respondents in that survey, 32% said “we’ll use what our existing BI tool provider gives us,” reflecting the fact that most adopters seem not to want to concern themselves overmuch with the details.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.04.38 PM

This is reinforced by inquiries, where selection criteria, if the client is that far along, virtually never include “who has the best SQL interface.” It’s not perceived as a differentiator, at least not yet, correctly or incorrectly.

In February 2015, I returned to the topic. The issue is much farther along, after all. Impala vs HAWQ vs Drill vs Hive vs IBM or Oracle or numerous other vendor-specific solutions, now being benchmarketed aggressively, might appear to be much more important. Read the press, walk the show floors, and it’s a big deal. Ask customers and prospects? The story is different. In 2015, even more of a larger respondent group – 256 this time – said they’ll use whatever their tool provider uses. And the percentage rose from 32% to 37%.  (Note that there is an error in the offered vendor names here –  Datameer in fact does not use SQL at all.)

What should we conclude from all this? The sharp-eyed among you will note that we have collapsed two categories from the first survey – “Hadoop BI specialists” and “analytics tool providers”-  into a single one this time: “tool provider.” And the combined group got less that the total of the two previous ones. What changed? It wasn’t “write your own SQL for Hive” – that went down from 27% to 24%. And writing to distribution-specific interfaces went down from 23% to 20%.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.10.35 PMThe big winner? Using DBMS vendors’ external table capabilities – it more than doubled, from 9% to 19%. What that suggests to me is that we are indeed approaching the “Bambi meets Godzilla” stage of the market.  New entrants are turning to their “strategic suppliers” of information management technology in the typical flight to quality that occurs in maturing markets for technology that was innovated at the edge. I expect to see more, not less, of this in the quarters ahead.

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