Sunday 25 October 2009

Unsolicited advice for Kickfire

Following up on the Kickfire BBBT tweetstream on Friday (23-Oct), I want to lay out my thoughts about Kickfire's positioning. I should point out that I have little experience with MySQL, no experience with Kickfire and I'm not a marketer ( but I play one on TV… ;) ).

Kickfire should consider doing the following:

1. Emphasise the benefits of the FPGA
We now know that Kickfire's "SQL chip" is in fact an FPGA. Great! They need to bring this out in the open and even emphasise it. This is actually a strength, FPGA's have seen major advances recently and a good argument can be made that they are not "propietary hardware" but a commodity component advancing at Moore's Law speed (or better).
They should also obtain publishing rights to recent research about the speed advantages of executing SQL logic on an FPGA. Good research foundations and advances in FPGAs make Kickfire seem much more viable longterm.

2. Pull back on the hyperbole.
Dump the P&G style 'Boswelox' overstatement. A lot of the key phrases in their copy seem tired. How many time have we heard about "revolutionary" advances? My suggestion is to use more concrete statements. Example: "Crunch a 100 million web log records in under a minute". Focus on common tasks and provide concrete examples of improved performance.
Also, reign in the buzzwords: availability, scalability, sustainability, etc. If this is really for smaller shops and data marts then plain english is paramount. "Data mart" type customers will have to ram this down the throat of IT. They need to want it more than an iPhone or they'll just give up and go with the default.

3. Come up with a MapReduce story.
MapReduce is the new darling of the web industry. Google invented the term, Yahoo has released the main open source project and everyone just thinks it's yummy. Is it a mainstream practice? Probably not, but the bastion of MySQL is not mainstream either.
Kickfire's "natural" customers (e.g. web companies) may not have any experience with data warehousing. When they hit scaling issues with MySQL they may not go looking for a better MySQL. Even if they do they'll probably find and try Infobright in the first instance.
Kickfire needs a story about MapReduce and they need to insert themselves into the MapReduce dialogue. They need to start talking about things like "The power of MapReduce in a 4U server" or "Accelerating Hadoop with Kickfire".

4. Offer Kickfire as a service.
Kickfire needs to be available as a service. This may be a complete pain in the ass to do and it may seem like a distraction. I bet Kickfire policy is to offer free POCs. But IMHO their prices are too low to make this scalable.
Customers need to be able to try the product out for a small project or even some weekend analysis. When they get a taste of the amazing performance then they'll be fired up to get Kickfire onsite and willing to jump through the hoops in IT.
If this is absolutely out of the question, the bargain basement approach would be to put up a publicly accessible system (registration required) filled with everything from Stick Pentaho/Jasper on top (nice PR for the partner…) and let people play around.

5. Deliver code compatibility with Oracle and SQL Server.
There are probably compelling reasons the choice of MySQL. However, many potential customers have never used it. They've never come across it in a previous role. It's not used anywhere in their company. Frankly, it makes them nervous.
Kickfire needs to maximise their code compatibility with Oracle and SQL Server and then they need to talk about it everywhere.

That is all. Comments?

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