Teaching an Old Elephant New Tricks

Conference on Innovative Data Systems Research (CIDR) |

Published by Very Large Data Bases Endowment Inc.

In recent years, column stores (or C-stores for short) have emerged as a novel approach to deal with read-mostly data warehousing applications. Experimental evidence suggests that, for certain types of queries, the new features of C-stores result in orders of magnitude improvement over traditional relational engines. At the same time, some C-store proponents argue that C-stores are fundamentally different from traditional engines, and therefore their benefits cannot be incorporated into a relational engine short of a complete rewrite. In this paper we challenge this claim and show that many of the benefits of C-stores can indeed be simulated in traditional engines with no changes whatsoever. We then identify some limitations of our “pure-simulation” approach for the case of more complex queries. Finally, we predict that traditional relational engines will eventually leverage most of the benefits of C-stores natively, as is currently happening in other domains such as XML data.