Gridded data, such as images, image timeseries, and climate datacubes, today are managed separately from the metadata, and with different, restricted retrieval capabilities. While databases are good at metadata modelled in tables, XML hierarchies, or RDF graphs, they traditionally do not support multidimensional arrays.
This gap is being closed by Array Databases, pioneered by the scalable rasdaman ("raster data manager") array engine. Its declarative query language, rasql, extends SQL with array operators which are optimized and parallelized on server side. Installations can easily be mashed up securely, thereby enabling large-scale location-transparent query processing in federations. Domain experts value the integration with their commonly used tools leading to a quick learning curve.
Earth, Space, and Life sciences, but also Social sciences as well as business have massive amounts of data and complex analysis challenges that are answered by rasdaman. As of today, rasdaman is mature and in operational use on hundreds of Terabytes of timeseries datacubes, with transparent query distribution across more than 1,000 nodes. Additionally, its concepts have shaped international Big Data standards in the field, including the forthcoming array extension to ISO SQL, many of which are supported by both open-source and commercial systems meantime. In the geo field, rasdaman is reference implementation for the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Big Data standard, WCS, now also under adoption by ISO. Further, rasdaman is in the final stage of OSGeo incubation.
In this contribution we present array queries a la rasdaman, describe the architecture and novel optimization and parallelization techniques introduced in 2015, and put this in context of the intercontinental EarthServer initiative which utilizes rasdaman for enabling agile analytics on Petascale datacubes.