Now operating as Illustra Information Technologies Inc, formerly Montage Software, and before that Miro, the Oakland, California-based object and relational database house has unveiled a new set of technologies and marketing alliances geared toward the financial services market. For the 1992 start-up, Wall Street business will be its fourth market focus, following health care and […]
Now operating as Illustra Information Technologies Inc, formerly Montage Software, and before that Miro, the Oakland, California-based object and relational database house has unveiled a new set of technologies and marketing alliances geared toward the financial services market. For the 1992 start-up, Wall Street business will be its fourth market focus, following health care and medical, earth sciences and government intelligence – where it has a dozen users in each segment – and telecommunications, where it has three users. The new focus is based on release 2.0 of its object-oriented relational database model and new TimeSeries DataBlade modules – data type libraries.
Illustra’s idea is to make available time-series data corporate financial reporting, stock prices, bond yields and so forth recorded in seconds, minutes, days or weeks over long periods of time – and other information such as images, text and video, via its building block enquiry and calculation modules, along with support for other database gateways, third party proprietary languages and applications. Illustra puts the data historical sets of numbers, plus the associated information such as scanned news documents, video clips plus whatever real-time feeds are required – up on trading room screens via Illustra Object Knowledge and Project Editor using a variety of graphical display devices. They enable the user to navigate through the data in all of its forms in various presentations to whatever degree of definition is required via a kind of flight simulator that provides birds-eye and worms-eye views. Developers can write applications in C++ instead of using the Object Knowledge shell as long as key Object Knowledge components are embedded in the application, using Liant Software’s C++/Views, Rogue Wave Software’s tools.h++ or Lucid C++ under Motif. Illustra also supports Unify Corp’s Vision proprietary language – VisualBasic and PowerBuilder are coming with Open Data Base Connectivity promised by the end of the year. Illustra argues that up until now, developing applications for this purpose has been costly and complex, because of the limitation of traditional relational databases, which it says can not efficiently store and manipulate time-series data. Illustra says Sybase Inc, the most prevalent database company in the financial services market, promised time-series analysis facilities for its database as far back as 1986 but did not deliver it. Illustra offers TimeSeries DataBlade modules that support a variety of data types, including images and video. Time-series type stores the sequences of time-stamped data – a calendar provides access to the time-series for updating, analysis and display.
By William Fellows
Illustra performs time-series calculations as objects and says that it builds on the advantages of standard ad-hoc and user-extensible relational database-type queries. The advantage of its object-relational model, it claims, is that one module can perform calculations that would require two, three or more conventional SQL statements on Sybase. TimeSeries DataBlade will be out in the third quarter on SunOS, Silicon Graphics and DEC Alpha systems at from $1,500. Illustra’s financial stuff runs on Unix servers and Windows clients. It says it has got the 25,000-odd Sun Microsystems Inc systems out at the financial houses in its sights. Illustra’s database is a commercialised version of a seven-year-old Berkeley project. It is capitalised at $12m, and says it will be a year before it decides where it will get future funding, but expects to stick the Ingres model over Sybase, in the $20m region, rather than $70m. There are more DataBlades coming and it is currently thinking about a Windows NT Advanced Server version. Illustra has also signed with Sybase financial services integrator Fusion Systems Group, New York and TriTeal Corp, San Diego, California, and will develop a Teknekron Information Bus Interface DataBlade for the eponymous Palo Alto, California firm Teknekron Software Systems Inc’s financial analysis mechanism. The
interface will enable users to capture real-time news and market data from TIB system in the Illustra database. Meanwhile, MathSoft Corp’s StatSci division in Seattle, Washington is linking its S-Pus data analysis software to Illustra and Visible Decisions Inc, Toronto, Canada, will put its financial services visualisation technology up on the database.
Illustra has also kicked off an independent software vendors program to get applications, tools or third-party DataBlade modules up on its database. An Illustra Developers Kit is from $3,500. The Illustra server is now also up on Cray Research Inc Sparc Superservers. Illustra says it will never do persistent C++ as the object database vendors do, or fully relational or transaction processing-type software. It criticises object database vendors for failing to adopt an SQL-89-compliant query language – object orientation is too tightly-bound to C++ for its purposes – and relational vendors for creating products that are too difficult to manipulate. The market wants SQL-89-compliant technology because it is used to working with it. Illustra says it will support the SQL Access Group’s emerging SQL-3, but believes the market will force SQL-3 and the Object Data Management Group’s access mechanism together over time. Other ways of addressing the problem of accessing, analysing and presenting the huge amounts of financial data time-series, text, video and image – such as putting object wrappers on Sybase, which is widely used in the financial world, are simply too inefficient, it says. Illustra chief technical officer Michael Stonebreaker – who was one of the original developers of Ingres – is also sceptical about Ilog SA’s plans to add object orientation to Sybase. Object wrappers or simulation are simply not efficient enough – especially in financial markets – and will severely impair performance, he says. And he believes that Sybase is already well into re-writing its database along object lines.