Atheon Analytics keeps development costs grounded by building a server cluster for data analytics from commodity hardware that fits in a backpack

“EXASOL in my backpack” demonstrates significant development cost savings by running on-premise – and by using a smattering of LEGO too

EXASOL, Bracknell, UK, 6 September 2016 – In-memory analytic database vendor EXASOL, confirmed as the fastest by the TPC-H industry standards, and user of EXASOL technology, Atheon Analytics, today showcased the fastest ever commodity-hardware-based four-server analytics database cluster that can be dismantled and transported in a backpack. The simple setup uses off-the-shelf mini PCs and has a bespoke network switch rack made out of LEGO.

Atheon Analytics, the specialist retail analytics consultancy working with some of the UK’s largest retailers and suppliers, has developed the innovative solution primarily to run their in-house development cluster.

Guy Cuthbert, managing director, Atheon Analytics says: “We were faced with spending large ongoing sums of money to run our development in the cloud and then realised that the servers were only required during working hours. We didn’t need enterprise-level support for our development environment.”

Atheon found that by using equipment that costs less than two months’ cloud hosting, it could create a full production-comparable cluster that is capable of running all its development needs and sits on a table in the corner of the office. It can be dismantled, fits in a backpack and can be taken customer sites for large-scale proof of concepts without needing to rely on fast internet connections.

Guy continues “A lot of people assume that cloud is the cheaper option versus on-premise but this simply isn’t the case for development needs.”

Atheon Analytics found the enterprise levels of support offered by cloud providers were unnecessary for a development workload. It also found that having kit on-premise brings the cluster to life and allows users to test how the environment copes with exceptions. To simulate a disk failure, they can simply unplug the disk. To simulate a server failure, they can simply turn off a machine in the cluster. The team is then able to watch how the cluster behaves and ensure it recovers exactly as expected.

Atheon Analytics uses EXASOL’s in-memory analytic database installed on a cluster of four of the latest Core i7 barebones PCs configured with 16GB of RAM each. They each contain 500GB solid state drives and are networked together using an off-the-shelf Gigabit switch. Atheon Analytics estimates the whole four node setup cost only around £2,300 – not including the LEGO.

Guy concludes: “Our production environment is hosted in a high-performance cloud and the versatility of the EXASOL solution means it works the same on the commodity hardware development cluster as well as in the high performance cloud. The team at EXASOL has been incredibly supportive throughout the process but admit to their surprise how well it works.”

Aaron Auld, CEO of EXASOL, comments: “In general, we recommend our clients use the latest enterprise-level hardware to run our software, but this solution is a testament to the ingenuity of Atheon Analytics’ engineers. When Atheon was looking for a way to keep the cluster neat without investing in expensive rack-based servers, one of its engineer’s daughters had the solution in her toy box: a custom LEGO-frame that keeps everything tidy. This is our kind of solution and it’s fantastic to see how well it performs. It certainly underpins our core message that ours is an in-memory analytic database ‘that just works.’”

For more information, please contact or call 020 8819 3170.


Notes to editors

The EXASOL Mini Cluster shopping list:

  • 4 × Eggsnow Fanless Core i7 5500u barebones pc
  • 4 × Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3L 1600
  • 4 × Crucial CT500MX200SSD3 MX200 mSATA Internal Solid State Drive – 500 GB
  • 3 × WD Blue 1TB 2.5″ SATA 6Gb/s SSHD
  • 2 × Netgear 5 port Gigabit Switch
  • 1 × External DVD drive
  • 9 × Funky coloured network cables
  • LEGO for the frame

EXASOL is passionate about helping companies to run their businesses smarter and drive profit by analyzing data and information at unprecedented speeds. The company develops the world's fastest database for analytics and data warehousing and offers first-class know-how and expertise in data insight and analytics. The in-memory analytic database is the first database to combine in-memory, columnar compression and massively parallel processing, and is proven to be the world's FASTEST, topping the list in the TPC-H Benchmark tests for performance. Companies that depend on EXASOL to analyze their data in real-time include Adidas Group, GfK, IMS Health, King, Olympus, MyThings, Sony Music and Xing. Follow EXASOL on Twitter at @EXASOLAG.

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