Ocient gets a CTO – from one of its VC funders

Ocient, the startup developing a trillion-rows-a-second RDBMS computation system, has appointed a CTO: Ian Drury, formerly of one of its lead investors.

Update: Ocient CEO says it’s computer-adjacent architecture, not JSON architecture as Otter transcribed it! 21 January 2022. Other notes added too.

Drury was a general and then part-time venture partner at OCA Ventures from July 2014 until December last year. Before that he was a CIO at Falcon Insurance Group in the USA and has more than two decades of experience in the database, data analytics and technology industries and in managing engineering teams at scale.

CEO and Ocient co-founder Chris Gladwin supplied a statement. “Ian brings more than 25 years of experience and understands the complexities of generating intelligence at hyperscale. Our growth demonstrates customers’ fast-growing need to harness trillions of valuable data records in interactive time and to do so with a partner like Ocient that will work closely with them to develop new revenue streams at a fundamentally better price point and with an accelerated time to value.”

Ian Drury.

Drury says he’s “thrilled to join Ocient during this critical moment of growth across new customers and industries. Ocient is accelerating the delivery of previously not possible hyperscale data analysis at high performance levels and low costs never seen before. This market is growing exponentially year-over-year and I look forward to being part of the team redefining how to derive significant business value from data at hyperscale.”

Headcount growth

Ocient announced that it had doubled its workforce in the past 12 months — taking on 63 people, in order to take advantage of significant growth and customer demand. It said it made “additions to its product, engineering, sales, marketing and customer relations teams to support a growing number of customers in pilot and production with its use case-driven solutions for adtech, lawful intercept, telecommunications, operational IT and geospatial.“

It also said it formed channel and alliance partnerships with SS8 Networks, Gigamon, Cubro, Tableau, A-VAR, Axial and Amdocs in 2021. 

Ocient’s public profile

The signs are that Ocient is set to raise its profile this year, and that means we should get a closer look at its technology. Gladwin is interviewed on a Cloud Database Report podcast that’s worth a listen to find out more about why Ocient was started up.

He discusses Ocient’s system design in outline, saying it has a computer-adjacent architecture, not relying on separate storage and compute, and uses NVMe SSDs in high core count CPU servers with 100GB NICs. To quote Gladwin directly: “We’ve developed what we call a computer-adjacent architecture, where the storage and the compute are in the same tier, in the same box.”

Its software can run on-premises, as a managed service, or in the public cloud, and “We also have a hybrid deployment model where we’ll put some proxy servers in a public cloud, but then run the back end as a managed service.” That means Orient operates the back end as a service.

It is capable of operating at serious scale. “In some of the queries, we’re running a quarter million parallel tasks across the system.”

On performance, he says “We ran some stuff like like benchmarks [on Snowflake] the other day, and this wasn’t even hyper, super hyperscale, it was just kind of, you know, looking at hundreds of billions of records. We were performing at one at 1/7 the cost, but five times the performance.”

Gladwin also says Ocient has about 500 potential customers who it approaches directly. There’s no need for external marketing to warm up, so to speak, a large potential customer base. It developed pilot systems in 2020 and initial deployments in 2021. He says: “We’re going to announce it sometime next year [2022]. … Unlike more of a consumer-facing business where you would announce what you do, and … then get customers, we get customers first and then we announce it.”

We’re unlikely to get a brain dump of information though, because: “We’re still going to be generally respectful of our customers’ desires to keep those details of who’s using it and how confidential.”

Bootnote. Ocient says it has, over the past five years, built an ANSI SQL-compliant analytical database for Petabyte and beyond datasets that is 10x to 50x times faster than competitive OLAP databases. This is a near-real-time relational database with analytics software for specific use cases.

One of Ocient’s initial funders was In-Q-Tel (the venture arm of the CIA).