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Actian grabs Amazon Redshift's secret sauce

ParAccel for analysing 20TB and above data stores

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Actian has acquired database specialist ParAccel, whose technology formed the guts of Amazon's RedShift.

The acquisition, whose financial terms were not disclosed, was announced by Actian on Thursday. Amazon licensed ParAccel's tech for its major AWS Redshift data warehousing service, and led funding for its series E round in July, 2011.

ParAccel's tech will slot into Actian's analytics product suite, alongside Actian's Vectorwise and RushAnalytics technology. Actian was formerly known as Ingres, but it rebranded in 2011 and decided to focus on small apps known as 'Action Applications' running from its cloud platform – a move that generated much discussion at the time.

Actian sees ParAccel fitting in at the top end of its DB offerings, with Vectorwise scaling up to about 10 or 20TB of data, and ParAccel kicking in after that.

As of January 2013, Gartner had put ParAccel in the lower right "visionaries" corner of its magic quadrant for data warehouse database management systems, which amounts to a sort of B+ rating from the professional beancounters, whereas Actian was in the lower left "niche player" box, which is more like a C.

But Actian hopes that the combination of ParAccel, Vectorwise and Ingres will give it a set of products that put it at the fore of the burgeoning scale-out DB industry. It believes the three systems let it offer a product suite that can be used to analyse vast quantities of data, without mandating the use of expensive proprietary hardware (a strategy favored by IBM and Oracle).

"We can run super-scaling big data applications on commodity servers," Actian CTO Mike Hoskins told The Register. "You don't have to be a giant to enjoy the big benefits of big data and analytics."

The company has been on an buying binge recently, acquiring embedded database specialist Pervasive Software in early April for an undisclosed sum, and data management specialist Versant in December after outbidding mainframe specialists Unicom.

As with all acquisition binges, the company will now need to work hard to chain together its newly acquired products without messing them up.

"That is a big challenge," Hoskins said. "It's now a serious task we have ahead of us to get a unified product story. The good news is they really are complementary on the whole big data side."

As for Amazon Web Services, Hoskins described the relationship with the cloud giant as "solid", and said services like Redshift are needed to cope with the increase in data volumes needing to be processed by enterprises. ®

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