03.15.11

Big Data analytics in the cloud could be HP’s enterprise trump card

Posted in Application Development, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Big Data, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Data Management, Enterprise Applications, OS/Platforms, Outsourcing, Rich Internet Apps., SaaS (Software as a Service) at 10:47 am by Tony Baer

Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts have kept us from attending Leo Apotheker’s keynote today before the HP Analyst Summit in San Francisco. But yesterday, he tipped his cards for his new software vision for HP before a group of investment analysts. HP’s software focus is not to reinvent the wheel – at least where it comes to enterprise apps. Apotheker has to put to rest that he’s not about to do a grudge match and buy the company that dismissed him. There is already plenty of coverage here, interesting comment from Tom Foremski (we agree with him about SAP being a non-starter), and the Software Advice guys who are conducting a poll.

To some extent this has been little surprise with HP’s already stated plans for WebOS and its recently announced acquisition of Vertica. We do have one question though: what happened to Converged Infrastructure?

For now, we’re not revisiting the acquisitions stakes, although if you follow #HPSummit twitter tags today, you’ll probably see lots of ideas floating around today after 9am Pacific time. We’ll instead focus on the kind of company HP wants to be, based on its stated objectives.

1. Develop a portfolio of cloud services from infrastructure to platform services and run the industry’s first open cloud marketplace that will combine a secure, scalable and trusted consumer app store and an enterprise application and services catalog.

This hits two points on the checklist: provide a natural market for all those PCs that HP sells. The next part is stating that HP wants to venture higher up the food chain than just sell lots of iron. That certainly makes sense. The next part is where we have a question: offering cloud services to consumers, the enterprise, and developers sounds at first blush that HP wants its cloud to be all things to all people.

The good news is that HP has a start on the developer side where it has been offering performance testing services for years – but is now catching up to providers like CollabNet (with which it is aligned and would make a logical acquisition candidate) and Rally in offering higher value planning services for the app lifecycle.

In the other areas – consumer apps and enterprise apps – HP is starting from square one. It obviously must separate the two, as cloud is just about the only thing that the two have in common.

For the consumer side, HP (like Google Android and everyone else) is playing catchup to Apple. It is not simply a matter of building it and expecting they will come. Apple has built an entire ecosystem around its iOS platform that has penetrated content and retail – challenging Amazon, not just Salesforce or a would-be HP, using its user experience as the basis for building a market for an audience that is dying to be captive. For its part, HP hopes to build WebOS to have the same “Wow!” factor as the iPhone/iPad experience. It’s got a huge uphill battle on its hands.

For the enterprise, it’s a more wide open space where only Salesforce’s AppExchange has made any meaningful mark. Again, the key is a unifying ecosystem, with the most likely outlet being enterprise outsourcing customers for HP’s Enterprise Services (the former EDS operation). The key principle is that when you build a market place, you have to identity who your customers are and give them a reason to visit. A key challenge, as we’ve stated in our day job, is that enterprise customers are not the enterprise equivalent of those $2.99 apps that you’ll see in the AppStore. The experience at Salesforce – the classic inversion of the long tail – is that the market is primarily for add-ons to the Salesforce.com CRM application or use of the Force.com development platform, but that most entries simply get buried deep down the list.

Enterprise apps marketplaces are not simply going to provide a cheaper channel for solutions that still require consultative sells. We’ve suggested that they adhere more to the user group model, which also includes forums, chats, exchanges of ideas, and by the way, places to get utilities that can make enterprise software programs more useful. Enterprise app stores are not an end in themselves, but a means for reinforcing a community — whether it be for a core enterprise app – or for HP, more likely, for the community of outsourcing customers that it already has.

2. Build webOS into a leading connectivity platform.
HP clearly hopes to replicate Apple’s success with iOS here – the key being that it wants to extend the next-generation Palm platform to its base of PCs and other devices. This one’s truly a Hail Mary pass designed to rescue the Palm platform from irrelevance in a market where iOS, Android, Adobe Flash, Blackberry, and Microsoft Windows 7/Silverlight are battling it out. Admittedly, mobile developers have always tolerated fragmentation as a fact of life in this space – but of course that was when the stakes (with feature phones) were rather modest. With smart device – in all its varied form factors from phone to tablet – becoming the next major consumer (and to some extent, enterprise) frontier, there’s a new battle afresh for mindshare. That mindshare will be built on the size of the third party app ecosystem that these platforms attract.

As Palm was always more an enterprise rather consumer platform – before the Blackberry eclipsed it – HP’s likely WebOS venue will be the enterprise space. Another uphill battle with Microsoft (that has the office apps), Blackberry (with its substantial corporate email base), and yes, Apple, where enterprise users are increasingly sneaking iPhones in the back door, just like they did with PCs 25 years ago,

3. Build presence with Big Data
Like (1), this also hits a key checkbox for where to sell all those HP PCs. HP has had a half-hearted presence with the discontinued Neoview business. The Vertica acquisition was clearly the first one that had Apotheker’s stamp on it. Of HP’s announced strategies, this is the one that aligns closest with the enterprise software strategy that we’ve all expected Apotheker to champion. Obviously Vertica is the first step here – and there are many logical acquisitions that could fill this out, as we’ve noted previously, regarding Tibco, Informatica, and Teradata. The importance is that classic business intelligence never really suffered through the recession, and arguably, big data is becoming the next frontier for BI that is becoming, not just a nice to have, but increasingly an expected cost of competition.

What’s interesting so far is that in all the talk about big Data, there’s been relatively scant attention paid to utilizing the cloud to provide the scaling to conduct such analytics. We foresee a market where organizations that don’t necessarily want to buy all that and that use large advanced analytics on an event-driven basis, to consume the cloud for their Hadoop – or Vertica – runs. Big Data analytics in the cloud could be HP’s enterprise trump card.

03.03.11

Big Data consolidation march contines: Teradata buys Aster Data

Posted in Business Intelligence, Data Management, Database at 12:09 pm by Tony Baer

At this point, probably at least 90% or more of analytic systems/data warehouses are easily contained within the SQL-based technologies that are commercially available today. We’ll take that argument a step further: Most enterprise data warehouses are less than 5 terabytes. So why then all the excitement about big data, and why are acquisitions in this field becoming almost a biweekly thing?

To refresh the memory, barely a couple weeks back, HP announced its intention to buy Vertica. And this morning came the news that Teradata is buying the other 89% of Aster Data that it doesn’t already own. Given Teradata’s 11% stake, the acquisition was hardly a surprise. Maybe what was surprising was the mere $263 million price tag, which Neil Raden wondered facetiously in his tweet, “That seems like a real bargain. I should have bought them myself!!! Or as Forrester’s James Kobielus tweeted, “Essentially, AsterData gives #Teradata the analytic application server (analytics + OLTP) they need to duke it out with Oracle Exadata.”

The irony is when you talk about Big Data, for years it was synonymous with one player: Teradata. But as we’ve observed, there’s more data everywhere and there’s cheaper processor, disk, cache, and bandwidth to transport and manage it – whether you intercept event streams, store it, or federate to it.

In all this, Teradata has found itself part of a widening vendor ecosystem that has responded to its massively parallel technology with new variants in columnar, in memory, solid state, NoSQL, unstructured data, and event stream technology. While Teradata was known for taking traditional historical analytics, and in some cases, operational data stores to extreme scale, others were eking out different aspects of extreme analytics, whether it being real-time or interactive analysis of structured data, parsing of social media sentiment, taking smarter approaches to managing civil infrastructure or homeland security through analysis of sensory data streams, fraud detection, and so on.

Teradata has hardly stood still, having broadened out its product footprint from its classic proprietary hardware to a broad array of form factors that run on commodity platforms, solid state disk, and virtual cloud, and more recently with acquisitions of MySQL appliance Kickfire and marketing analytics provider Aprimo. Acquisition of Aster Data, probably the best pick of the remaining lot of columnar database challengers, provides Teradata yet another facet of an increasingly well-rounded product portfolio. Going forward, we expect that Teradata will continue its offerings of vertical industry data templates to extend to the columnar world.

Viewed from a market perspective, Teradata’s acquisition marks the home stretch for consolidation of the current crop of analytic database challengers, who are mostly spread in the columnar field. Dell is the last major platform player standing that has yet to make its move.

The currently wave of consolidation hardly spells the end of innovation here, as there is plenty of headroom in taming of the NoSQL world. And although acquisition of Aster Data overlaps with HP’s Vertica deal, that makes Teradata no less attractive for an HP that seeks to broaden out its enterprise software footprint.