Playing off a trend that blog SiliconAngle calls Big Data, EMC this afternoon announced it is acquiring Greenplum an innovative software company that produces highly scalable, very high performance database systems using off-the-shelf-commodity systems. The price of the acquisition was not disclosed by EMC. This is a statement by EMC that business analytics is strategic and a critical growth area for the company. EMC used to be the storage platform of choice in data warehouse and business intelligence markets. Early successes with programs such as MCI’s Friends and Family initiative put EMC on the map and its strong storage offerings continued its momentum for a decade.
The market has shifted as of late moving toward integrated appliances and this move gives EMC a very important arrow in its quiver to compete with the likes of Oracle/Exadata, HP/Microsoft, IBM and others.
My quick take:
*Business analytics is becoming a mission critical discipline within organizations
*Peformance is critical
*The workload (BI/Data Warehousing) is a memory, CPU and disk hog
*Practitioners indicate performance constraints are a huge gate to achieving desired business value
*The holy grail of the business is real time analytics
Greenplum, a San Mateo, CA company has built a system using a massively parallel architecture that scales and is reportedly well-suited for mixed workloads maintaining very high performance. While Exadata is reportedly strong in very large environments, Greenplum is supposedly very good at federating many data warehouses and data marts. It’s a perfect fit for EMC in that regard. The company also has a technology that can move certain database code directly to the storage layer to improve performance. This storage affinity is another reason why EMC is such a good fit for greenplum’s architecture. In addition, Greenplum has announced an on-demand private cloud version of its product which again fits EMC’s marketing mantra quite nicely.
EMC clearly saw this space moving faster than it was keeping pace and used its muscle to make another move. What EMC is slow in developing it is quick in acquiring. The company is becoming an M&A machine. It’s quasi-vertically integrated approach lends itself well to Greenplum, meaning it will still partner with the likes of Dell to deliver solutions on commodity hardware. By purchasing Greenplum EMC now controls the storage backend choice in this strategic market. This is a big and growing market with lots of upside potential and EMC pulled the trigger before someone else did.
The big knock on Greenplum has been too new, too small, no direct sales prowess. That changes assuming EMC can figure out the selling model. This space is hot and EMC sales reps sell to hot markets so my guess is that EMC will succeed. Nonetheless this gives the poor EMC sales guy yet another offering to master in an increasingly complex portfolio.
Teradata is the leader in this space but is seen as company that locks in clients. Some Wikibon members have complained about the escalating cost of their Teradata solutions and the lack of alternatives. Oracle with Exadata has been blowing out sales and IBM/Cognos are also very strong in the market. IBM has hinted at Exadata-like appliances in the future. SAP’s acquistition of Sybase puts it sqarely in the mix and Microsoft’s recent agreement with HP will likely bring Exadata-like appliances across a wide spectrum of workloads. Upstart leaders like Netezza remain the lone independent on the short list of vendors. Having said that other upstarts such as Vertica have demonstrated an ability to compete. As well, the Hadoop open source movement is another force to watch which Greenplum has been leveraging in partnerships.
Bottom line: EMC recognizes the importance of the BI/analytics/data warehouse space and is making moves to guarantee that its storage doesn’t get squeezed out of the picture.
Users will want to see:
*Smokin’ fast performance
*Reference architectures (or what EMC calls Proven Solutions)
*Federation capabilities; not just big honking systems.
Good move by EMC even if it did pay a premium. The value of this asset will only go up in my view.