The high-tech spin-off company VectorWise from the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam has been sold to Ingres Corporation (USA), a leading open source database management company. VectorWise develops analytical database technology and was founded in 2008 by members of the pioneering CWI database research team Peter Boncz, Marcin Zukowski, Sándor Héman and Niels Nes. Ingres Corporation has funded the spin-off company since its inception.
VectorWise is based on scientific research results and derives its strength from a completely new approach on data processing. The approach makes use of vector processing on data sets in which every vector is tailored to the size of the cache memory of modern processors. The vectorized execution model also allows exploiting SIMD features (such as SSE in Intel CPUs) as well as multi-core technology, and is complemented by innovations to help optimize high-bandwidth disk I/O. The new method is beneficial for existing database applications and allows organizations to perform data analysis tasks that were previously not feasible. Applications are not restricted to businesses, as increasingly advances in logistics, science, medicine and healthcare depend on the analysis of very large data volumes.
The research behind VectorWise (originally called ‘MonetDB/X100’) stems from earlier work at CWI on its open-source database system MonetDB, for which the group received the prestigious VLDB 10-year best paper award in 2009. “Research in computer science should prove itself in practice”, says Peter Boncz, co-founder of VectorWise and researcher at CWI. “In this process the vision of Ingres Corporation has been critical in bringing our innovative technology successfully to the market and at the same time we guarded the core competence of CWI.”
The development of VectorWise has spurred further scientific innovation even beyond CWI, as other scientists around the world were eager to get their hands on this state-of-the art system as a foundation for further research. CWI now collaborates around VectorWise with Yale University, ETH Zürich, Ilmenau University of Technology, University of Tübingen, University of Edinburgh and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. The VectorWise team itself continues to publish scientific papers in top data management venues, such as the 2010 SIGMOD paper on efficiently updating columnar databases, which was very well received.
VectorWise is a good example of a CWI spin-off that has successfully transferred scientific knowledge to the market and that, in return, has raised new fundamental scientific questions. The generation of high-tech spin-off companies is an important method for CWI to convert fundamental knowledge into practical application. The CWI database research group has launched several other successful spin- off companies, among them are Data Distilleries, MonetDB and Spinque.