By Tasso Argyros in Blogroll on April 6, 2009

When Mayank, George and I were at Stanford one of the things that brought us together was a shared vision of how the world could benefit with a more scalable database to address exploding volumes of data.  This led to the birth of Aster Data Systems and our flagship product, Aster nCluster, a highly scalable relational database system for what we call “frontline” data warehousing -an intersection of large data volumes, rich analytics, and mission-critical availability.

One way we found to solve the problem of managing and analyzing so much data was by implementing In-Database MapReduce. MapReduce is a programming model that was popularized at Google in 2003 to process large unstructured data sets distributed across thousands of nodes, and at Stanford we worked with some of the professors that had worked with the Google founders. In-Database MapReduce enables enterprises to harness the power of MapReduce while managing their data in Aster nCluster. Just like its massively parallel execution environment for standard SQL queries, Aster nCluster adds the ability to implement flexible MapReduce functions for parallel data analysis and transformation inside the database.

Much of the work of the Aster Data team is “fusing” best practices from the relational database world with innovations that Google pioneered for distributed computing; this takes strong engineering, so it’s no wonder that we are an engineering-driven company with some of the best minds available on our team.  Of our 26 engineers on staff, there are seven PhDs, and six PhDs on leave.  Over time in this blog I plan to highlight the members of the Aster team that help make nCluster a reality.

One key member is Dr. Mohit Aron. Mohit is an architect, and his focus is on the distributed aspects of the nCluster architecture. His achievements include the delivery of several key projects at Aster, notably in areas related to quality of service, SQL/MR, compression, performance, and fault-tolerance.

Before joining Aster Data Systems, Mohit was a Staff Engineer at Google Inc where he was one of the lead designers of the super-scalable award winning Google File System. Dr. Aron has held senior technical positions in industry where his work has focused on scalable cluster-based storage and database technologies.  He received his B.Tech degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi and his M.S. and Phd from Rice University, Houston. His graduate research focused on high performance networking and cluster-based web server systems. He was one of the primary contributors to the ScalaServer project and won numerous best paper awards at prestigious conferences.

I am also very glad today to announce that another key member of our organization, Dheeraj Pandey, has been promoted to VP of Engineering. He has been with Aster ever since September ’07. Dheeraj has played an instrumental role in building this strong team together with me. He has been my alter ego all this while, as we shipped two major releases and four patchsets in the last 19 months. Beyond the tangibles, he has an acute focus on nurturing emotional intelligence within the engineering organization. Too many organizations, with strong technical mindsets, falter because people begin to underemphasize the value of honest communication, trust, and self-awareness. I am proud that we are building a culture, from very early on, which will endure the test of time as the company grows.

Dheeraj came to Aster from Oracle Corporation, where he managed the storage engine of the database. Under his leadership, Oracle built the unstructured data management stack, called Oracle SecureFiles, from the ground up. He also led the development of Oracle 11g Advanced Compression Option for both structured and unstructured data. Dheeraj has co-invented several patent-pending algorithms on database transaction management, Oracle Real Application Clusters, and Data Compression. Previously, he was building commodity-clustered fileservers at Zambeel. In the past 10 years of his industry career, he has developed diverse software for midtier Java/COM applications to fileservers, databases, and firmware in storage switches. Dheeraj received an M.S. in Computer Science from The University of Texas (Austin), where he was a doctoral fellow. He received a B.Tech. in Computer Science from the IIT Kanpur, where he was judged the “Best All-Rounder Student Among All Graduating Students in All Disciplines.”

I am confident that, as an innovation-driven company, we are entrusting one of  our most critical functions, Engineering, in very safe hands.

I hope you continue to watch this space for updates on Aster, our products, and our people.

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