I’m happy to announce NitroAccelerator 6.0! We now can significantly improve performance of “chatty” applications. Chattiness can be caused by applications that require a lot of validations or that involve complex user interfaces that need to contact the server every time data is entered for a field. A very common cause of chattiness is when the developer uses multiple active result sets (MARS) to connect to SQL Server. This option causes extra round trips to SQL Server to retrieve data which amplifies the latency of your network.
We have had many customers experience this effect without even knowing their application was using MARS. In the past we needed to detect that MARS was in use so we could let the customer know that there was no way to address their performance issue. Now that is no longer a factor and, upon installing NitroAccelerator, they will see performance improvement without having to know about MARS!
Back in December we announced that NitroAccelerator now accelerates SQL Server Analysis Services which was a major breakthrough for us in that we are now beyond TDS (Tabular Data Stream) protocol and operating at the TCP/IP level. Now there’s a great by Jen Underwood of ImpactAnalytix talking about it. This is a significant expansion of our value proposition to businesses both small and large. And, while a lot of what we do sounds technical, the most gratifying thing about our business is that we solve a business problem. Every customer I talk to tells me a variation of how we make their business better. We help companies move information faster so they become more productive and agile in their markets. Stay tuned next week for a real-life story on that…
Wow! I can’t believe January is already almost over. We hit the ground running this year with honing our focus as a company, taking care of our existing customers, and onboarding new ones. In 2016, we made major inroads in stabilizing and adding some key new features to NitroAccelerator such as intelligent protocol detection and HyperCache which significantly speeds up client-server applications. We also announced support for SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) which is our first foray into accelerating applications purely at the TCP/IP level. In 2017 you will see new capabilities put into NitroAccelerator which will further broaden our market appeal in the SQL Server space and you will also see a new product that takes what we learned with SSAS and brings acceleration and security to ALL Windows-based applications.
In 2016 we won back several customers who decided that, indeed, we are mission critical to their operation, and we also expanded our customer base significantly. In the last few months, we have won customers in Europe, Asia, and Africa (as well as the USA) and are now working opportunities that will put us on EVERY continent in the world.
So, we have been busy! This week we are returning to our bread and butter in putting a focus on SQL Server Replication. Many of our original customers are using NitroAccelerator to speed up replication between geographically dispersed locations and we believe that replication is a good way to co-locate data with the applications to improve performance at those locations. Pinal Dave wrote a nice piece this week about this use for replication, as well as other replication scenarios in his latest nicely title blog, When to Use a Sledgehammer and When to use a Screwdriver.
I’m also looking forward to my first video blog where I interview a Nitrosphere customer about the before and after relating to NitroAccelerator. It’s a great interview and I hope you watch it. I’ll be doing this on a regular basis with customers and other people in our industry.
With that, a belated but excited Happy 2017!
In the past I’ve talked about the paralysis of analysis. Today I have news that Nitrosphere now accelerates analysis – SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS)! SSAS is Microsoft’s Business Intelligence platform. BI reporting can generate huge result sets at the SSAS client and cause data analysts to spend undue time waiting for data to be pulled to their systems for analysis and reporting. Now with NitroAccelerator the entire flow of data is accelerated – from SQL Server databases into the SSAS Server, then to the data analysts running SSAS clients. Data analyst wait times for our customers who tested the product were reduced by 90%. That’s pretty amazing!
The other significant aspect to this new product release is that it is our first offering that has generalized TCP/IP acceleration. The original NitroAccelerator optimized the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) protocol which is the proprietary mechanism that SQL Server uses to transfer data. TDS is highly inefficient, so we started there. With NitroAccelerator 5.5 we are now in the realm of WAN optimization and security for applications with the first being SSAS. This is the first down payment on Nitrosphere’s strategy that we began executing early this year. Expect to see more exciting news from us before the end of 2016!
This is a timely product release as we are announcing this at the PASS Summit 2016 conference in Seattle this week. We’re looking forward to meeting up with customers, prospects, and MVPs at the conference. If you are attending, please come see us at Booth K4.
You can see the press release here.
I read this really interesting article titled, “The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence”. It identifies three “calibers” of AI:
- Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) or Weak AI: this is where we are today with IBM Watson, Apple’s Siri, etc. Very focused AI’s that do a great job in one category like beating people at chess.
- Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) or Strong AI: which is human-like intelligence that can perform any intellectual task a human can.
- Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI): Artificial Superintelligence ranges from a computer that’s just a little smarter than a human to one that’s trillions of times smarter—across the board.
It stipulates that human tendency is to predict the future based on past history. We tend to take a linear view of the past and say, for example, I invest in the stock market because for the past 100 years stocks have returned an average of 10% annually. However, what does every prospectus say? Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. What if we are reaching a point in time where everything changes? A further stipulation is that once one or more AGIs are attained, the leap to ASI will occur extremely quickly due to the Law of Accelerating Returns (a Ray Kurzweil construct). Basically it means that advancements in any area lead to further acceleration of advancement. The bottom line is that many respected technologists are predicting that we are 10-20 years away from AGI which would put us 20-30 years away from ASI.
I was discussing this with my son, Christian (CJ), who is a developer at BazaarVoice. He was bringing up the implications of what happens when you have an intelligence that is able to decode any encryption technique so it knows everything about a person, business, government that is stored digitally? And then what happens if it acts on this information? It could affect markets, topple governments, destroy people. Using a feedback loop of increasingly intelligent self-improvement, the ASI could advance its capabilities exponentially. Despite these potentially dire scenarios, it’s like that, at first, the ASI would be dependent on people as, for example, we install, maintain, and repair hardware, power grids, etc. We would possibly develop an economic relationship where we trade with the ASI things it needs in return for things we need (benevolence?). CJ says that effectively we would be the creators of a new god for humanity. But he says, at the end what would make that god interested in humanity? As it gained independence from human resources, why should it continue to interact with us? Would it reach a state of transcendence devoid of humanity? Would it see humanity as an existential threat at some point? So my question to him was, is it even ethical for us to be pursuing AI knowing that the result could be an ASI? Should we have a code of ethics governing such pursuit? How do we protect at a minimum people’s privacy? And, of course, as with nuclear weapons, what happens if we let bad actors attain AGI/ASI first? Then, of course, our conversation went metaphysical in discussing the very nature of the universe down to is there a single universe and could an ASI create other universes that result in other ASIs in other universes. Pretty mind-boggling. But we’re on a precipice and most people are unaware. And when it happens, it will likely just become the new normal.
Meanwhile, what are you doing to protect your information? Do you know what encryption is being used on your machine? Do you know where and who is connecting to your system? Are you prepared for the new normal?
There is a good summary of SQL Server 2016 features in this article in TechCrunch. A key highlight is the vast improvement in performance as, “queries should execute 25 percent faster on the same hardware. Once you start making use of new features like SQL Server 2016’s in-memory updatable column stores, those speed-ups could hit 100x for some types of queries.” This kind of performance improvement is incredible and sets apart SQL Server from its competitors. However, if you look at my blog from last week about network congestion, for those with already congested networks or with branches and users who have low or variable bandwidth connections, they may not realize the full benefit of these performance gains. This is akin to the great gains in CPU power that were made prior to the advent of SSD storage where hard disk technology was not able to supply data fast enough for the CPU to consume. Thus techniques like on-disk caching were used. I believe that improvements like this will increase the need for network performance acceleration and other techniques to enable end-users to fully realize the benefits of the upcoming SQL Server 2016 release.
I read an interesting article this week about Sonoco, a large multinational packaging company, using containers to save on licensing. While the prime subject was interesting in itself, this quote from Nancy Lawson, the primary SQL Server DBA, caught my eye, “My main concern is that we have enough issues with network performance within our own data centers.” While nearly everyone is looking for ways to create a fatter pipe between data centers using tools like WAN accelerators, these techniques don’t reduce overall traffic within the network. So then, the organizations use complex QoS and application prioritization algorithms to attempt at ensuring reasonable performance for critical applications. Then this leads to adding discovery tools, monitoring systems, and more and more complexity – not just of the application infrastructure, but for the management infrastructure for ensuring performance and availability. This complexity causes every infrastructure management decision to become a strategic decision, not just due to complexity, but because these become six to seven figure spending decisions. If you can reduce overall network traffic you get several benefits including:
- better application performance,
- reduced complexity of the application and management infrastructure,
- lower costs of bandwidth and infrastructure.
The only way to address this is at the endpoints (the sum of all the infrastructure to support the applications: servers, desktops, laptops, etc.) Endpoints are where the network traffic begins and ends. If you don’t address network performance at the root, the endpoint, that’s when you need to add huge complexity to your environment. Implementing acceleration at the endpoint will improve application network performance while also reducing complexity and overall congestion across the entire network (LAN, WAN, Cloud).
Fred Johannessen- CEO
Today is a culmination of our aggressive investment in Nitrosphere that began last year. We’ve completely revamped our flagship product NItroAccelerator with major improvements that dramatically accelerate performance for both server-to-server traffic and client-server traffic. This release is not only a revamp, but it is the most extensively tested both internally and in beta by our incredible customers.
We have also completely redone our website and I think it is world class! The colors pop. The content is clear and concise, and navigation to product and company information is easy to get to.
I’m very proud of the efforts of the Nitrosphere team and think you’ll agree that the product, the message, and the look and feel of the company is high-impact, high-energy, and built to service customers and prospects in delivering the results they expect.
To celebrate this occasion, we are making a couple of promotional offers:
- 25% discount to anyone who commits to purchase by May 31
- Drawing for tickets for two to the Formula 1 race in Austin on October 21-23 for any prospect or customer who allows us to post their performance results with NitroAccelerator Turbo on our website.
If you have tried NitroAccelerator before and, for whatever reason, things didn’t work out, you should try us again. If you haven’t tried it out, the time is now to start providing the performance your users/customers deserve.
Austin, TX— September 2, 2015 — Nitrosphere Corporation, the leader in Microsoft SQL Server security and performance software, today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Fred Johannessen as Chief Executive Officer effective immediately.
Johannessen has an extensive background in software from leading development teams to building global sales channels. Johannessen will focus on expanding Nitrosphere’s reach into global markets while also seeking to invest in product-line development to extend Nitrosphere’s portfolio. “We are thrilled to have Fred’s experience and leadership to take Nitrosphere to the next level, especially as the marketplace calls for additional security and performance products to ensure optimal protection for increasingly cloud-based businesses and applications.” said Emily Bersin, Nitrosphere’s co-founder and chief architect.
As a seasoned executive, Johannessen brings nearly 30 years of experience in technology leadership roles starting as a developer at GE and progressing to leading global development and sales organizations in companies such as BMC Software and Heat Software. “Nitrosphere fills a major gap that many organizations utilizing Microsoft SQL Server face in providing high performance to remote locations while assuring top-notch data security,” said Fred Johannessen. “Most customers face a conundrum in using appliance-based WAN accelerators because they are not effective at compressing encrypted data resulting in inconsistent performance; and are not true end-to end solutions which puts data at risk. Nitrosphere has a differentiated solution that addresses both performance and security in one product with guaranteed delivery of the data.”
Nitrosphere provides advanced encryption and compression solutions to improve the performance, reliability, security and cost of Microsoft SQL Server network performance. NitroAccelerator improves SQL Server WAN replication, WAN optimization and cloud application performance and security.
In the last post, we talked about performance of retail store data movement and how it needs to be in real-time to attract and retain customers.
Then there’s security. If we learned one thing in 2014 it is that data breaches are haunting retailers. According to a Security Week blog post that sourced data from Gemalto, 2014 saw one billion records compromised in 1,500 data breaches worldwide; compared to 2013, those numbers are an increase of 80 percent in term of data records and 40 percent in terms of breaches overall. The top two sectors for breaches were Retail and Financial Services. No one is predicting 2015 numbers to shrink.
Retailers are working at every touchpoint to secure customer data to protect their consumers and their brands. Real-time data collection and data movement from retail outlets require the highest levels of encryption to secure customer data.
When retailers look to appliance-based solutions to increase their data movement and replication performance between databases, they create new security risks without the ability to provide true end-to-end data encryption. Retail business and IT technologists don’t have to sacrifice security for performance with innovative solutions like NitroAccelerator. This encryption and compression solution does not use a middleman in providing 256-bit encryption and guaranteed data delivery with high performance across any network. Retailers will continue to find places to secure their customer and store data while expanding rapidly. NitroAccelerator is one of the enablers that retailers need in order to meet consumer experience requirements and to be a good stewards of data.
All of these trends show that retailers in particular are ripe for technology that securely accelerates data movement to support their expansion and growth requirements. How will the data captured by the barista who makes lattes in the Xi’an, China store ultimately be shared with global operations? From Mom and Pop stores to global brands, the onus is on the retailer to move data quickly and securely to delight consumers and keep them coming back for more.