BYOH – Hadoop’s a Platform. Get Used To It.

When is a technology offering a platform? Arguably, when people build products assuming it will be there. Or extend their existing products to support it, or add versions designed to run on it. Hadoop is there. The age of Bring Your Own Hadoop (BYOH) is clearly upon us.  Specific support for components such as Pig and Hive vary, as do capabilities and levels of partnership in development, integration and co-marketing. Some vendors are in many categories – for example, Pentaho and IBM at opposite ends of the size spectrum interact with Hadoop in development tools, data integration, BI, and other ways. A few category examples, by no means exhaustive:

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IBM Acquires Netezza – ADBMS Consolidation Heats Up

IBM’s bid to acquire Netezza makes it official; the insurgents are at the gates. A pioneering and leading ADBMS player, Netezza is in play for approximately $1.7 billion or 6 times revenues [edited 9/30; previously said "earnings," which is incorrect.] When it entered the market in 2001, it catalyzed an economic and architectural shift with an appliance form factor at a dramatically different price point. Titans like Teradata and Oracle (and yes, IBM) found themselves outmaneuvered as Netezza mounted a steadily improving business, adding dozens of new names every quarter, continuing to validate its market positioning as a dedicated analytic appliance. It’s no longer alone there; some analytic appliance play is now in the portfolio of most sizable vendors serious about the market. Read more of this post

Partial Plans Perplex Press at SAP – Sybase Event, But Promise is Everywhere

SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe and Sybase CEO John Chen keynoted a two-continent event on August 19 to demonstrate their solidarity and provide an early look at strategic plans. Many analysts greeted the initial announcement with positive reviews – mine is here, and Noel Yuhanna of Forrester weighed in here. Progress since the $5.8 billion transaction formally closed (just a few weeks ago) has been modest, but certainly better than the message, which was not yet crisp. The press release (several pages in length) was long on marketing phrases and short on specifics, and those in attendance generally found the content scattered and difficult to parse. Highlights emerged, however, in the subsequent discussions as press, analysts and bloggers dug in for details:

  • A mobile application software development kit (SDK) will combine the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) with SAP NetWeaver Mobile and Business Objects Mobile software within 9 months.
  • Sybase CEO John Chen, on the SAP board, will operate Sybase as a “separate, independent unit,” and reaffirmed the commitment to maintaining the product roadmap he made when I interviewed him at TechWave
  • SAP will “port, certify and optimize” SAP Business Suite, NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Business Objects Data Services and Business Objects BI solutions to Sybase ASE. No dates were specified.
  • Business Objects, already certified for Sybase ASE and IQ, will be “combined with (unspecified) Sybase data management servers” to deliver “discovery, storage, and consumption.” No dates were specified; it’s not clear what’s new here other than packaging.
  • The companies will incorporate SAP’s in-memory computing technology across SAP and Sybase data management offerings.

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Oracle’s High BI Bar: Managed, Multifaceted and Actionable

Oracle’s newest BI release is massive, spans multiple product categories, and raises the bar for competitors in dramatic fashion. In my prior post I focused on its rollout and competitive posture. The market has waited a long time as the reconciliation of many moving parts was accomplished – most notably the convergence of the Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) offering and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition (OBIEE). Hyperion integration with its Essbase acquisition was not complete. In 2007, OBI’s newest release (10.1.3) was most notable in many eyes for its new Microsoft Office support. PeopleSoft and Siebel had been acquired some two years before that, and Master Data Management was already a topic of discussion then (2005). There was a long way to go. And analysts? Well, think of us as the kids in the back: “Are we there yet?”

Oracle has used its time, and its $3B per year investment in R&D, well. OBIEE 11g delivers a strong base for its customers to build upon, and for its own teams to continue fleshing out a very coherent vision of ready-to-consume, actionable analytics suitable for multiple roles, on multiple platforms, across the breadth of information available. Although there is much left to do, Oracle has laid out a clear path and articulated a differentiated message that offers ample reasons for anyone on other platforms to consider OBIEE, whether or not they are an Oracle customer. For this analyst, the big wins are the Common Enterprise Information Model, The Action Framework, the strong manageability focus, unified and enhanced user interaction for report and other forms of design and delivery, and BI applications.

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Oracle Sets Sights on BI Leadership. Has it Picked the Right Target?

Oracle is not first in BI, and wants to change that – that was the clear message of a well executed, multi-site “real plus virtual” event with top executives showing off the result of a multi-year effort to rationalize and integrate a set of leading but overlapping components into a seamless suite. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g (OBIEE) deserves the accolades it has already received from analysts who welcomed its announcement – it makes bold and serious bets on effective centralized metadata administration, data integration/ unification and optimized analytic architecture, collaboration, globalization, mobile device support, and a powerful link to action that will be most effective (unsurprisingly) with its own business applications. While it misses some pieces – fully integrated in-memory processing, SaaS and cloud support among them – these will be forthcoming, and Oracle is clearly committed to a quicker release cycle now that the thorny internal politics around legacy products seem to be resolved. But its competitive focus may be misdirected; while SAP is still ahead in market share, IBM is the bigger threat in the marketplace.

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Sybase Database Value to SAP – Long Term and Short

It’s not what you think – the hidden jewel for the near term may just be SQL Anywhere. Read on. Disclosure: I worked at Sybase in the last millennium, when it hit the wall at $1B the first time and bounced. Over the next few years, Oracle dramatically outdistanced itself, in large part, as it turned out, because of the massive opportunity presented by SAP. Thousands of huge installs atop the Oracle DBMS, and not one with Sybase. Why? Because of a technology disagreement. SAP wanted row-level locking. Sybase’s answer: “Let us tell you why you’re wrong to want it.” Leaving aside the lesson to be learned from that one, let’s talk about how much the newly acquired Sybase database portfolio does for SAP. I’m leaving the best for last, because all the chatter has been about ASE and IQ, but read to the end.

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SAP – Sybase: Synergies? Suspect So.

SAP announced today that it will acquire Sybase for $65.00 per share, representing an enterprise value of approximately $5.8 billion. The announcement says that “customers will be able to better harness today’s explosion of data and deliver information and insight in real time to business consumers wherever they work so they can make faster, more informed decisions.” But the vision goes beyond that: the combined companies will be able to deliver the ability to act on those decisions, anywhere. The combination of SAP’s substantial share of its customers’ transactional systems with Sybase’s mobile expertise in messaging and application development tools for mobile devices affords extraordinary opportunities that are not lost on management. Following the public press event, I chatted with Vishal Sikka, SAP’s CTO, and Dr. Raj Nathan, EVP and CMO of Sybase. We covered some of the opportunities on the table and SAP’s plans for its new assets. Read more of this post

SAP Signals Changes At Insider Event – Vaguely

SAP took the wraps off planned updates to its data warehousing, data integration and on-demand BI plans a bit at the  SAP Insider BI and Portals event in Orlando in late March. There were some modest surprises: the unexpected absence of Marge Breya, who was in Walldorf apparently getting a broader set of responsibilities (a week later, still no official word about that); a delay in the release schedule and changed naming of the next Business Warehouse release; and a strong (and thus encouraging) Data Services message that reaffirmed Business Objects openness. Read more of this post

Want Broader BI Usage? Crystal Reports Founders Offer Indicee

Mark Cunningham has reunited some of the team that built Crystal Reports (now part of SAP Business Objects) and launched Indicee, a SaaS-based BI reporting play that is pointed squarely at the continuing difficulty of extending BI beyond its seemingly permanent minority usage model.

It’s commonly understood that users continue to fend for themselves manually, moving data to spreadsheets for analytic manipulation because IT is unable to respond quickly enough to their needs. Indicee tackles this by re-using existing report and spreadsheet content (not surprisingly, Crystal reports lead the source list), moving it to the cloud for data mart-based interaction, and innovating a different approach to user interaction. It’s worth a look, and a free download for trial use sweetens the deal. Read more of this post

SAP Promises Acceleration on a “Clear Path” – Will it Be Enough?

The economic slowdown was not kind to SAP in 2009, and as it launched the annual Influencer Summit on December 8th, change was in the air. Messages were shifting. “Sustainability” got a big push, and there was a ringing commitment to substantial, dramatic product change to be delivered in 2010. Different faces were on display: there was no Leo Apotheker or Bill McDermott on the stage, although Board members Jim Hagemann Snabe and John Schwarz held down the fort with new Marketing EVP Jonathan Becher and CTO Vishal Sikka in key speaking slots. Like the dances I went to in high school, the event was mostly date-free, but direct questions elicited some specific, though uncommitted, statements about deliveries in 2010, especially from Marge Breya. Read more of this post

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