Vertica Review

I liked the auto-distribution to all nodes for fault tolerance and query performance.


What is most valuable?

The auto-distribution to all nodes for fault tolerance and query performance was pretty amazing.

How has it helped my organization?

Our data warehouse at the time was a multi-terabyte PostgreSQL cluster. It worked really well, but we wanted to increase the size to many TB's and our due to our query and loading patterns we found greater performance from Vertica's multi-node warehouse.

What needs improvement?

In the versions I worked with, if a majority of the nodes were being loaded under heavy, sustained rates the nodes would see some dramatic decreases in performance due to the data shuffling that needed to occur between all the nodes. To work around that we ended up doing most of the loading in one or two nodes and that helped significantly.

The synchronizations problems occurred when loading about 10 billion events, at a rate of about 100k tuples/second/node across 5 nodes. One of the suggestions from Vertica engineering was to increase the number of nodes to offset how much data was being sync'd per node.

For how long have I used the solution?

Extensive use of Vertica 5 as a production datawarehouse, and a POC for a client.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

In earlier versions Vertica, it could sometimes be a pain to install on multiple nodes. In the most recent versions most of that pain has been fixed. Stability in earlier versions was compromised at times when the majority of the nodes were under heavy write loads.

How are customer service and technical support?

The service and support from Vertica was excellent. Every tech and sales rep I dealt with was very responsive, pleasant, and helped me solve any engineering issues we ran into in very short order.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used Greenplum and Postgres extensively. The latter is an excellent general-purpose database and is entirely suitable for most data needs, however Vertica works really well in cases where you are storing and querying a lot of data that can be compressed and stored in columnar format, and you need your data auto-balanced across many nodes.

How was the initial setup?

The installation procedure was reasonably straightforward, but earlier versions of Vertica were a bit more tricky due to libraries and dependencies. The docs were unclear in a few places during the installation, particularly with OS' that were not fully compatible with the required libraries. I expect those issues have been resolved in the newest version (8 at this time).

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was done in-house, with excellent support from the Vertica engineers.

What other advice do I have?

My advice is to clearly define your expectations, and benchmark performance in real-world-like environments. If you expect to be executing 100 queries per second and loading 10 million tuples per minute, then test that, and test several times that so you collect measurements about where the system is liable to break down.

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