Splice Machine CEO Wants Database Shake-Up
Database Solutions

Splice Machine CEO Wants Database Shake-Up

For all the talk of disruptive technologies and disintermediation, the ICT sector can actually be slow-moving in many ways as the incumbents prove hard to shift and enterprise buyers fight shy of risk and change. But that’s not stopping data world veteran Monte Zweben from trying to wrestle customers away from the likes of Oracle in the enterprise database segment.

When we spoke by phone recently, the CEO of Hadoop RDBMS maker Splice Machine says he doesn’t underestimate the challenge, but says that students of computer history would see precedents.

“Who would have thought that Salesforce.com would displace Siebel in CRM? Or that Oracle would displace IBM? It’s incredible but it happens.”

Of course Salesforce’s breakthrough was using online software and Oracle’s came with client/server and Zweben is betting that Hadoop will repeat the trick and represent another inflexion point. He’s not pretending that enterprises will throw away their current databases of course, but he sees the new generation of databases being a better fit for today’s world of massive-scale analytics and spies an opportunity to grab some workloads from the old guard of database giants.

Zweben is not in the NoSQL camp that, with Hadoop, is often seen as a huge agent of change in the data space. Splice Machine’s dual appeal is to offer the massive scale-out muscle of Hadoop with the broad appeal of the ubiquitous SQL query language. The unusual company name comes from its execution model. When queries are processed, the results are spliced together from multiple commodity server nodes.

His best sales tactic is the equivalent to the Pepsi test: get customers to compare their workloads using a Splice Machine box to an Oracle RAC, SQL Server, DB2 or whatever, and see for themselves the performance improvement and savings.

It’s a formula that has won Zweben about 15 charter customers and $22m in funding, but his CV already marks him out as man to watch in data-driven environments. A former NASA artificial intelligence expert, in 1996 Zweben sold enterprise planning software firm Red Pepper Software to PeopleSoft for $225m and had an even bigger win when he took e-commerce firm Blue Martini Software public in the crazy Web 1.0 days of 2000.

Zweben says this opportunity is even bigger.

“Blue Martini was about marketing and eCommerce apps. Splice Machine provides databases that could power almost any app. We want customers to turn to us when they think they have a computing problem too big to handle affordably. If we do that, we will disrupt the $20bn RDBMS market and build a highly successful database and application company.”


Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect 


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Editorial Consultant for IDG Connect

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