Vertica Bags $16.5M

Startup plans Linux-based database for fraud detection and data warehousing

James Rogers, Contributor

February 12, 2007

4 Min Read

Database startup Vertica Systems, which is the brainchild of Ingres creator Michael Stonebraker, has quietly racked up $16.5 million in Series B funding as it prepares to enter the market for grid-based data software with potential uses in data management and security.

The round, which was co-led by Kleiner Perkins and New Enterprise Associates, also included existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Highland Capital Partners.

Vertica was founded in 2005 by former Infinity Pharmaceuticals, vice president Andy Palmer and Stonebraker, who was the main architect of the Ingres relational database management system and the object-oriented Postgres database. Stonebraker and Palmer are now Vertica's CTO and CEO, respectively.

The CEO's current project is still deep in stealth mode, though spokeswoman Janice Brown confirmed that Vertica is developing a grid-enabled relational database management system. This will run on Linux-based hardware.

The Andover-Mass.-based vendor is touting this software as a way for users to run fast SQL queries for applications such as data warehousing, business intelligence, and analysis of customer data for fraud detection, spending patterns, and the like. The software, which is called Vertica database, is in trials with a number of early adopters, according to Brown.

Vertica could also be used in data analysis and compliance tools, as well as in various security applications.

At this stage, though, Vertica is still cloaked in secrecy, and details of its Series B funding only leaked out in an SEC filing. Brown would not reveal any other roadmap, financials, or headcount details, although the firm is expected to issue its first press release in the next few weeks.

Vertica has already formed a partnership with Red Hat built around x86 hardware and 64-bit processors from Intel and AMD. According to Red Hat's Website, Vertica is targeting its wares at large databases in the "tens of Tbytes."

At this point, it is still unclear to what extent Vertica will rely on grid standards such as the Globus middleware toolkit for building grid systems and applications. (See Grid Startup Hits the Source, Grid Computing: Baby Steps, and Vendors Form Globus Consortium.)

The Vertica database was apparently born out of the C-Store database project involving MIT, Brown, Brandeis, and UMass Boston. C-Store stores data in columns as opposed to rows and includes a number of column-based data compression techniques.

Vertica is also on the lookout for a software engineer, a systems integration engineer, and a quality assurance expert, according to its Website, which hints that the cash influx is being used to flesh out the firm's workforce.

That said, the startup is not the only vendor targeting the data warehousing market. Last week, for example, Greenplum, which also offers Linux-based software, clinched $19 million in funding and debt financing. (See Greenplum Closes $19M and Greenplum Eyes Data Warehouses.)

Like Vertica, Greenplum is also touting the ability to run fast queries on large databases, although both firms are up against some well-established competition in the shape of IBM, Teradata, and Oracle. (See IBM Streamlines BI and LSI Powers Teradata.)

Sun is also attempting to get into this game and is reselling Greenplum's software on its X4500 server/storage device, rebranded as the Sun Data Warehouse Appliance. (See Sun, Greenplum Unveil App, Sun Thumps Storage-Server Hybrid, Storage Slows Down Sun, and Smart Signs Greenplum.)

At least one analyst feels there is a growing market for grid-based database software. "These days, the notion of using a grid to do massively parallel database work is getting a lot of traction in business applications, not just scientific applications," says Michael Goulde, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

According to Goulde, grids, which were initially used for the likes of oil exploration, are increasingly deployed for credit reporting, fraud detection, and data mining for marketing purposes.

Certainly, more and more enterprises are turning to grid-based architectures for their number-crunching, despite some initial skepticism about the technology. (See Users Put Grids on the Grill, Gridding My Teeth, and Enterprises Still Not Sold on Grid.) Today, for example, Burlington Coat Factory announced plans to deploy Oracle's 10g software in its warehouse. (See Burlington Goes for Grid.)

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

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