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Scalable Semantic Web Stores

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I listened with disappointment this morning to the latest Talking WIth Talis podcast with Tom Ilube from Garlik. He makes the comment that they spent 18 months building their own scalable triple store and I can’t help thinking what a waste of time and effort. He goes on to state that it now scales to several billion triples across multiple nodes, and that at the time, no triple store scaled to the level required. However Tucana/Kowari scaled to this level four years ago (a single node could hold about 500 million triples at the time).

I can’t help but wonder if it was Steve Harris’ association with the AKT project that was the real reason behind them building their own store (See Dave’s comments for a possible reason.). Another possible reason is Tucana/Kowari/Mulgara’s Jena support – originally put in to provide a migration path for companies looking to move on from research projects to scalable infrastructure – which as Jena was/is the defacto semweb tool of choice, people used to evaluate Kowari’s scalability.

He also makes the point that Garlik are one of the first companies doing semweb on a commercial scale. This is also not correct. There was Tucana, as well as a bunch of other companies and government agencies we had contact with, some of them are still around today.

I also can’t help wondering if we were just too early, from memory Tucana started in semweb in 2000/2001 and went under in 2004. Perhaps we were so far ahead that we were too freaky, people today are still freaked out by semweb, and it’s supposedly hit the mainstream.

Perhaps Dave & Brian’s startup Zepheira will have more success in a more forgiving marketplace. They’re website is certainly Web 2.0™ compliant if that helps…

Update: It seems my comments may have been interpreted in a manner that I didn’t intend. Firstly, I think the work the current batch of semweb companies are doing is great, in fact I’m a little jealous I’m not still amongst it. Secondly, the Jena support in Kowari may have hurt us in some areas, but certainly helped more than hindered us. I think it was the right decision to make at the time and I certainly hold some of the responsibility for if we lost people over Jena, as at that time I was working with sales. I’ve updated the wording of this post to make this clearer.

Written by Tom Adams

April 24th, 2007 at 7:56 am

Posted in Semweb