Vertica Review
The ability to view running queries and cancel problem ones from the Management Console is a very nice feature.


Primary Use Case

Vertica is our sole data warehouse solution. It is our single point of access to all data loaded from disparate data sources across the organization, and is the single point of truth for all business rules encapsulated in our fact and dimension tables. All of our reporting to all business departments originates from Vertica.  We are also using Vertica's inherent analytic functions, most notably geospatial, and are automating much of our analytics team's R libraries and functions into Vertica for faster processing.

Improvements to My Organization

The fast columnar store database structure allows our query times to be at least 10x faster than on any other database. This enables us to get answers to data questions as well as numerous analytics on our data out to our internal and external clients quickly. We are able to integrate our Vertica data warehouse with Tableau to create numerous reports quickly and efficiently. What was once a two year backlog of report requests on our old data system has been virtually eliminated now that we are using Vertica to provide the solutions.

We are able to create complex reports in Tableau by crunching the data in Vertica first and simply extracting the data to Tableau. We have used Vertica to automate manual processes across our business that previously used mostly Excel, and now R, improving efficiency company-wide. We have saved our Analytics Department days worth of man hours each month by using Vertica's Integrated R package instead of their local R Studio implementations. We are also opening new areas of business and potential new revenue streams using Vertica's analytic functions, most notably geospatial, where we are able to run billions of comparisons of lat/long point locations against polygon and point/radius locations in seconds.  

Valuable Features

I have found great use out of many features, most notably the Management Console and the Database Designer. Many people with lots of experience creating table projections can get frustrated trying to optimize some complex queries, however, in Vertica, the Database Designer is normally a big help in these situations. You can feed it your problem queries and it will make projection design suggestions for you. The ability to have multiple projections on a table to work with different queries is a big bonus.

The Management Console is an invaluable tool for monitoring the health of our Production and DR clusters. Copy Cluster and Cluster Replication help us keep both easily in sync on a daily basis. Integrated R and geospatial functions are helping us improve efficiency and explore new revenue streams.  

Room for Improvement

Documentation has become much better, but can always use some improvement. Love the tech support, but hoping Micro Focus will invest in some additional training for the Level 1 responders so they are much more familiar with more areas of the product.

Use of Solution

More than five years.

Stability Issues

Our system is very stable. In the two years I have administered Vertica at this job, I have had 100% uptime outside of planned outages for upgrades and hotfix applications.

Scalability Issues

No issues. Amazingly scalable.

Adding one node was very easy, as was adding memory to all nodes. We are currently in the process of setting up a Dev / DR environment which is going very smoothly.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

I have a great relationship with Vertica customer support. They are friendly, knowledgeable, and are quick to respond.

Technical Support:

HPE Professional Services have also been a huge help to us when needed. They are well worth the investment.

It is extremely rare that I ever have an issue with Technical Support. My requests are always given a very quick initial response. Almost always get rapid feedback on my issues, and immediate escalation to the appropriate engineering team, either upon request or when the first level support rep needs additional insights on their own. On rare occasion, I have gotten a rep who is likely newer and almost reading off the script, but I am always able to give them enough info upfront so they avoid most of that, and they accommodate my escalation requests, if necessary.

Previous Solutions

No, not at this company.

At my last company, we initially used Aster Data (now owned by Teradata). Once our database grew too large, it was unable to handle the number of transactions we were completing per day. Many queries on our largest table were taking from 20 minutes to over an hour to complete. Right out of the box, our longest queries went down to under a minute, most completing in a matter of seconds.

Initial Setup

The initial setup was straightforward. We used an HPE-affiliated vendor to purchase and properly set up the equipment, completed a PoC, and then we had HPE Professional Services assist with the transition from our old system to Vertica.

Our Linux team loves it as one of the best installation packages. Initiate on one node, and the RPM propagates automatically to all other nodes.  

Implementation Team

We implemented through a vendor. I highly recommend using IIS, they are amazing.

I do all business through IIS. Top notch vendor, they are not just a "call and send a quote" company. I have developed a great professional relationship with my reps over the last five years over two Vertica admin jobs. They come onsite, enable access to the highest levels of Vertica engineering and management when needed, and also have found us opportunities at many of Vertica/HPE/Micro Focus trusted partners, such as Docker and Ormuco.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

The pricing, based on raw TB of data stored, is fair and affordable. You can have multiple projections per table without incurring a cost beyond the initial data load. The fact that a Dev and a DR cluster are included in the license cost is a great value!

Work with a vendor, if possible, and take advantage of more aggressive discounts at mid-fiscal year (April) and fiscal year-end (October).

Other Solutions Considered

We evaluated Vertica and Greenplum, and chose Vertica due to cost and a number of existing use cases that were nearly identical to ours.

Other Advice

My only advice is to seriously consider using Vertica for your data warehouse needs. I have normally just gone with the flow and learned whatever tools our company chose. When we switched from Aster Data to Vertica, I made the initial recommendation to do so. I am so happy with this product that I am now an HP ASE Certified Vertica Administrator, and moved to a new job that is also using Vertica. I would not have changed jobs if I were not able to continue using this product. I am also recommending to management that we purchase HPE IDOL for our upcoming audio and video analytics needs. HPE Big Data Solutions is a great product suite, and I have bet my career on its future growth.

I can't recommend Vertica highly enough. While no solution is perfect, Vertica offered the most right out-of-the-box, and continues to expand on its offerings with every release. I am looking forward to see what changes come as a result of the Micro Focus spin merger.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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