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Eliminate the DeWitt Clause

Justin Olsson and Reynold Xin throw down the gauntlet:

At Databricks, we often use the phrase “the future is open” to refer to technology; it reflects our belief that open data architecture will win out and subsume proprietary ones (we just set a new official record on TPC-DS). But “open” isn’t just about code. It’s about how we as an industry operate and foster debate. Today, many companies in tech have tried to control the narrative on their products’ performance through a legal maneuver called the DeWitt Clause, which prevents comparative benchmarking. We think this practice is bad for customers and bad for innovation, and it’s time for it to go. That’s why we are removing the DeWitt Clause from our service terms, and calling upon the rest of the industry to follow.

One example of how you can tell if you’re influential is how many legal terms are named after you, which I’m pretty sure makes Dr. DeWitt the Steve Tasker of the database industry. So put David DeWitt in the Data Platform Hall of Fame.

And good of Databricks to eliminate their DeWitt Clause. Vendors put the clause in ostensibly to prevent rigged or invalid comparisons between products, but there’s a much better way to do this: publish the benchmark configuration and allow peer validation. If you put out garbage numbers (including on accident because you didn’t know the right way to do something), people are smart enough to catch that. And if people aren’t willing to publish the process, call for them to do it and if they still don’t, ignore the results. 100 times out of 100, that’s the right way to do it…assuming that you’re looking for the truth and not just trying to hide inferiorities in your product *cough* Oracle *cough*.

One Comment

  1. George Walkey
    George Walkey2021-11-11

    Let start with Microsoft

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