MarkLogic and the New York Times

December 2, 2013

On Saturday, November 30, 2013, The New York Times published “Health Care Site Rushing to Make Fixes by Sunday.” As I now know, mission accomplished. But there was no aircraft carrier, brass band, or flag. (Here’s the link to the online story, but like so many “real” journalistic efforts, the link can go dead and you will have to hunt for a November 30, 2013 Times and look on pages A 1 with a jump to page A 12. Penguin, there is nothing I care to do about the link. Sorry.)

I wanted to document this passage from the Times’ story about MarkLogic. What’s interesting is that the company gets little attention from other “real” journalists. I suppose if I were curious, I would attempt to answer the question, “Why?”

I am not curious. Here’s what snagged my attention on the 30th:

Gary C. Boom, the chief executive officer of another vendor, MarkLogic, said his firm is also moving its software to differently configured servers.

The idea is from MarkLogic’s neighbor in Silicon Valley, Oracle. A few years ago, Oracle wrote a white paper banging on MarkLogic’s technology. You can find a copy of that analysis in “Mark Logic XML Server 4.1.” I wrote about the tempest in “A Coming Dust Up between Oracle and MarkLogic?

The Times’ story continued:

MarkLogic provided the technology for the database that serves as the system’s internal filing cabinet and index.

The story does not make clear whether MarkLogic is an XML server that acts like a junction box among the moving parts of the site, a data management system interacting with Oracle’s technology, or a search engine for the Web site. MarkLogic positions its technology as doing each of these functions plus analytics, business intelligence, customer relationship management, publishing, and probably some other functions as well.

the Times quotes Mr. Bloom as having said:

I am picking up my house and moving it to a better foundation next door,” he [Mr. Bloom] said in an interview. He said MarkLogic is performing up to standard, but “the network and the storage systems are not properly sized and not properly run.”

It is not clear to me which vendor is providing the storage systems. Is it MarkLogic or is it another vendor such as Oracle, a company apparently unimpressed with some of MarkLogic’s technology if I understand the Oracle white paper.

The Times added:

“Another critical problem involved the specifications for a major computer switch that connects the computer services through a security firewall to the Internet. Mr. Bloom said it has been upgraded from four gigabytes a second to 60 [gigabytes a second]. He said the earlier speed was the equivalent of employing four security staffers to screen Heathrow Airport’s passengers. “The line to get through,” he said, “would go back to the city of London.”

I am not sure how these issues did not become known to the vendors pushing data through the system, but apparently, the 15X shortfall was not noticed. I wonder how many home builders move a completed house to a new foundation. Also, what if the security folks at Heathrow are more or maybe less efficient than those located where is?

I will keep my eye on this issue because MarkLogic has been emphasizing that it offers a search system. Where there is a search vendor, there seems to be some activity of interest. And where there are MarkLogic and Oracle, there may be some interesting discussion between the parties.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2013


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