SenSage Focuses on Event Data to Make Mark in Data Warehouse Space

SenSage is leveraging its history in security information management with its event data warehouse. By focusing on event data, SenSage is looking to cut its own path distinct from vendors such as Oracle, Teradata and Netezza in the data warehouse space.

In the crowded space that is data warehousing, SenSage is trying to carve out its own niche by leveraging its history in security information management for what it calls the event data warehouse.

To hear SenSage tell it, the event data warehouse aims to help enterprises deal with voluminous amounts of event data such as records created by business transactions and communications.

"Long-term retention of these types of records is often required to detect fraud [and] analyze performance trends, and, in the case of communication records, the retention is mandated by government regulations for access by law enforcement agencies," said SenSage CEO Jim Pflaging.

In its recently released SenSage 4.0, the company leverages its columnar database architecture. Its ETL (extraction, transformation and loading) tool pulls data into the warehouse, where it is compressed and spread across server nodes to allow for high insertion rates. Data queries are distributed across data warehouse nodes as well to improve performance.

"As a columnar database, the SenSage EDW [event data warehouse] does not require indices but provides an advanced querying technique, known as Bloom Filters, to determine if the data required to satisfy a query exists in trees on the nodes," Pflaging said. "[Our product] does not require users to have any understanding of SQL to build powerful queries by providing a query wizard. Queries can be saved and run on any schedule. Result sets can be viewed as a list of records or in a number of graphical reports with summaries that allow users to drill down to details."

SenSage's next move is to expand system scalability by taking advantage of new performance features such as multicore processors and advances to the Linux operating system. Also, the company wants to expand integration with tools that provide advanced analytics, Pflaging said.

The data warehousing space has many contenders, including Oracle, Teradata and Netezza, three of SenSage's chief competitors. But some analysts have said SenSage's focus on purpose-built event data warehouses gives it a slightly different market position than other vendors. Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus predicted that the need for event data warehouses will likely grow as organizations seek to consolidate, analyze, query, report on and archive event information for security and compliance purposes.

"SenSage doesn't attempt to compete head-on with Teradata, Oracle, IBM and others for the core EDW market opportunities-i.e., customer data integration, financial data consolidation, etc.-instead, they predominantly target EDW opportunities in support of fraud detection, [Sarbanes-Oxley Act] auditing, forensic investigations, privileged-user monitoring, root-cause analysis, call-detail record analysis and law enforcement," Kobielus said.

Philip Howard, an analyst with Bloor Research, said there is a market for event data warehouses, but it is nascent and characterized by different approaches.

"For example, CopperEye, which has built an appliance with Sun, is focused just on CDRs [call data records] ... while LogLogic only records log data and not CDRs," Howard said. "SenSage does both."