Introducing Barry Zane

By: Katana Graph

December 14, 2021

Introducing Barry Zane

Katana Graph is proud to announce the appointment of Barry Zane as VP of Engineering.

Barry has a deep background in database technologies and analytics. His passion for developing high performance data products took him to a CTO position at Applix and a founding role at Netezza, both ultimately acquired by IBM after becoming publicly traded companies. Barry also played founding roles at ParAccel, now part of Actian, and SPARQL City, whose analytic engine for unstructured data was acquired by Cambridge Semantics. At Cambridge Semantics, Barry’s team developed the query engine at the heart of a graph-based data management system.

Expect a lot more information about Barry’s plans and role at Katana Graph in the near future, but in the meantime, we were able to catch Barry for a few quick questions.

It seems like everything in your entire career is directly relevant to Katana Graph’s plans for a comprehensive graph intelligence platform. Can you tell us what you expect your initial role at Katana Graph to be and what that role will entail?

Barry Zane: My title is VP of Engineering, and my team will concentrate on the graph engine itself, the query engine, and the related software. From my perspective, that focus is aimed at creating the highest performance openCypher implementation out there, so that we can become the dominant graph engine that supports the de facto standard which is openCypher and driving towards the ISO standard as that comes out, which is GQL. I’ll be coordinating with the leaders of other teams such as machine learning and AI toward offering an end-to-end graph intelligence platform.

For those familiar with your past work, your answer to this question might seem obvious, but for the record, how did you decide to join Katana Graph?

BZ: Quite a number of things really. I was in the relational space for much of my career but about ten years ago I came to the conclusion that the relational data model isn’t well suited to today’s data analysis needs, particularly for pressing issues like fraud detection and drug discovery. It was then that I realized that this graph stuff is really cool, not merely from a technical perspective, but because it's simply a better way to think about data than relational data model and analysis.

It's very clear that what Katana has can outperform anything else that's out there today - awesome.

Here’s an example. You can go up to a board and draw a circle that represents a person, then draw another circle representing the movie Star Wars, and then draw an arrow with the word “watched” from the person circle to the movie circle, and everyone immediately understands. Then you can add a bunch of movie circles and people circles with arrows, and it is visually clear which movies which people went to, who saw the most movies, and which movie was seen most often. Everybody understands it effortlessly. Now it’s possible to represent those relationships and that data in the relational world, but it's not as clear to a human being. So graph is a much more human-understandable way to see the world. But more, while it’s intuitive, graph allows you to find things that you weren't expecting to find - patterns in the world that you weren't expecting, which is huge.

So the first point is that I love graph, and Katana Graph is a pure graph play.

Then there’s the folks here - a lot of really bright people who have been doing this for a long time, as opposed to having just started in the space. There's a lot of depth here - the depth of the executive team and the leadership team of the company, and the depth of the individual engineers. This is fairly unique for a startup, so it’s another thing that excites me about Katana Graph.

Finally, there’s nothing more exciting than building a product that people use and that people feel good about, so the company does well. It feels great to be able to deliver and produce value out in the world. There are different approaches to graph and I think Katana has locked on to the right long-term approach. The fact that companies like Intel and Dell are standing behind this at a startup stage is really quite remarkable.

You’re alluding to Katana Graph’s unique perspective and unique take on what the graph product suite of the future will look like. Can you give an opinion on where we might be in five or ten years?

BZ: Well, Katana has locked onto the precepts needed for ten years from now. If you try to anticipate where the world is heading, Katana is already pointing there. Everybody knows the standard algorithms - page rank, shortest path, and so forth. But, the whole world of data is vastly broader than what people have been thinking in terms of graph. You can imagine a world where graph, because it’s a cleaner data model, essentially replacing relational. It’s very hard for me to imagine what kinds of significant questions are going to be best answered by relational technology. I’ve seen during my interviews with Katana Graph some of the benchmarks of the product versus well known databases and technologies of the industry, and was blown away by what Katana is doing. It's very clear that what Katana has can outperform anything else that's out there today - awesome.

So, to your question regarding five and ten years out, I really do see much broader adoption of graph taking on workloads that have been traditionally considered the realm of other technologies, but technologies unfit for our evolving needs. Graph is in most circles still considered a niche, customers deployed graph for the specific use cases where relational falls short.

So the five year vision is much broader adoption. Translating that into a three or six month plan is really simple: getting 1.0 out the door and making it a great version. That’s really it. So my vision is really clear - to help us make graph go mainstream and have Katana Graph at the center of it all.


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