Simplement: A new take on an old problem

Those readers with an elephantine memory may recall that I have written about HVR (High Volume Replicator) from HVR Software (previously PSB) twice in the past: in 2004 and 2006. The company recently came up again while I was talking with Simplement.

Simplement is in the business intelligence space, specifically targeting query capability against SAP-based operational environments, either directly, for those whose SAP implementation is based on SQL Server, or indirectly, for those whose system is based on Oracle.

Where it takes a different approach from other BI vendors is that, rather than using an ETL (extract, transform and load) based approach to BI—extracting the data into a warehouse and then querying it—it uses replication. Specifically, Simplement replicates the data into a SQL Server database, compresses it in flight and then allows real-time queries to be run against the replicated data.

This makes a lot of sense, both in supporting real-time queries and in its ability to support large data volumes.

Where HVR came up was with respect to the fact that Simplement has only relatively recently extended its capabilities beyond purely SQL Server environments to support Oracle to SQL Server replication. As may be obvious from the context of this article the company eventually opted to use HVR for this purpose but, more interestingly, it has shared with me the details of its selection process and why it selected HVR as opposed to the other solutions it looked at.

As a Microsoft ISV, Simplement started by trying out Microsoft’s own replication capabilities. However, this uses a conventional trigger-based approach, which is generally frowned upon and, according to Simplement, lacks scalability. In the benchmarks Simplement ran Microsoft was 30 times slower than the fastest product tested and twice as slow as the next worst products.

Two companies that were eliminated from the comparison early were Quest, because it only offered Oracle to Oracle replication, and Sybase, because Simplement found the latter to be very complex.

This meant that the main competitors to HVR were Oracle and Attunity. Despite being the fastest product looked at (15 times faster than Oracle and 30% faster than HVR) Attunity was eliminated for a lack of functionality, leaving the choice between HVR and Oracle.

With respect to the latter, Oracle Streams and GoldenGate were both possibilities but with Streams deprecated by Oracle in favour of GoldenGate, the latter was the serious option, especially in conjunction with Oracle Director, which makes the tool much easier to use. However, Simplement had four major issues.

First, the product was relatively slow; second they felt that there were support issues with GoldenGate, with many of the original members of staff having left after the acquisition by Oracle; third there were pricing issues because Oracle pricing is based on the number of CPUs in use whereas HVR is licensed simply on the basis of sources and targets, thereby making it much more cost effective; and, finally there were functional issues.

As Simplement put it: “we would have been willing to pay the Oracle prices if GoldenGate had the functionality and user friendliness of HVR, but it doesn’t”.

So, there you have it: an innovative approach to real-time query support for SAP environments through the use of HVR, which is probably the leading pure play replication product on the market today. Currently this solution is limited to SQL Server and Oracle environments but both companies have DB2 support on their roadmap.

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Philip Howard is Research Director (Data Management) at Bloor Research. Data management refers to the management, movement, governance and storage of data and involves diverse technologies that include (but are not limited to) databases and data warehousing, data integration (including ETL, data migration and data federation), data quality, master data management, metadata management and log and event management. Philip also tracks spreadsheet management and complex event processing.