Hadoop 2013 – Part Three: Platforms

In the first two posts in this series, I talked about performance and projects as key themes in Hadoop’s watershed year. As it moves squarely into the mainstream, organizations making their first move to experiment will have to make a choice of platform. And – arguably for the first time in the early mainstreaming of an information technology wave – that choice is about more than who made the box where the software will run, and the spinning metal platters the bits will be stored on.There are three options, and choosing among them will have dramatically different implications on the budget, on the available capabilities, and on the fortunes of some vendors seeking to carve out a place in the IT landscape with their offerings.

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IBM’s IOD Showcases DB2, Informix, InfoSphere. Now, About Marketing….

It was hard to decide where to look first in Las Vegas this year at IBM’s flagship information management event. Coming as it did on the heels of a massive, sprawling Oracle Open World, it was also overwhelming, but distinguished itself immediately by its focus. Whereas Oracle has smashed together hardware systems, apps, middleware, java and development, systems management and database into a bewildering multi-site show, IBM continues to run separate events for Websphere, Rational, Tivoli, and Lotus. No single IBM event trumpets “we’re the biggest,” and they don’t take over the towns they’re in; the content seems a bit more manageable. And as an attendee who hopes to get a broad view, I’m happy with that. However, as I’ll discuss below, Oracle is winning the messaging war nonetheless.

There was indeed talk of systems at IoD this year, as Smart Analytics Systems got a refresh and some added units on x-based platforms. Flash memory additions to the x-based 5600, bundling InfoSphere and Cognos along with an updated Linux release, provide the basis for a good story along with more cores, memory and storage. A similar story is possible for the POWER-based 7700, which also added the new Blue Darter solid state disk (SSD.) And the z audience gets the 9600, with its sidecar, the transparent offload to the Smart Analytics Optimizer. Yes, IBM has a column-based database, with innovative storage tweaks and an optimizer that knows when to use it and when not to. Great promise there.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Try this: ask 10 IT people what Exadata is, and what Smart Analytics Systems are. Ask them who makes the offerings, and what they do. Go ahead…I’ll wait….

Back? OK. Here’s what I learned, after doing that experiment at 3 events attended by IT people (data people, in fact.) 8 of 10 I asked knew Oracle makes Exadata and it’s a wicked fast platform for data. 4 of 10 knew who makes the other one, and fewer knew why. On visibility and buzz, game Oracle.

There is much more to talk about, and visibility and buzz are not everything. IBM’s numbers continue to be good, and nobody in Armonk is complaining. But the IBM Software brand needs to get more attention, more investment, and a tighter, more focused story. The good news? Conversations I’ve been having suggest that it will in 2011, and it’s about time. Read more of this post

EMC Jumps Into ADBMS Appliance Game

The Data Computing Appliance, first deliverable from EMC’s acquisition of Greenplum, was announced last month, only 75 days after the acquisition closed, and it doesn’t lack for ambition.  Pat Gelsinger, President and Chief Operating Officer, EMC Information Infrastructure, pointed to the high level opportunity: unlocking the “hidden value” of enormous and growing data assets every company is increasingly holding, and often failing to leverage. The appliance will reach many hitherto untapped resources in the data centers that EMC occupies. Adding EMC’s manufacturing, sales and marketing, and reference architectures to the Greenplum IP brings what Gelsinger calls Greenplum’s “first phase” to its completion. And begins what is likely to be a sizable battle with Oracle, Teradata and IBM, if EMC mounts campaigns and spending to match its ambitious vision. Read more of this post

EMC World 2010 and IT Vendor Evolution

From Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.

IT vendor conferences offer a variety of amusements and educational opportunities, and EMC World 2010 was no exception. But the most interesting aspect of this year’s event focused on how things have changed for EMC during the past year. Consider this: EMC World 2009 kicked off with a keynote co-hosted by company President and CEO Joe Tucci and VMware President and CEO Paul Maritz, emphasizing the companies’ common vision of virtualization as the foundation for cloud computing. Last week in Boston, Tucci used his solo keynote to highlight EMC’s notion of private cloud computing as the rightful future of enterprise datacenters and discussed the partnerships EMC is pursuing to make that vision a reality. Read more of this post

Microsoft and HP Announce New Application-to-Infrastructure Model/Partnership [Yawn]

(Co-authored with Charles King of PUND-IT, Inc.)

Microsoft and HP announced a new investment of $250M into their Frontline Partnership, designed to deliver integrated stacks supporting applications from Microsoft’s Exchange and SQL Server and beyond into the cloud. As part of this effort, the companies plan to deliver solutions built on what they defined as a “next generation infrastructure-to-application model” which will help speed implementation, eliminate IT management complexities and lower overall costs by automating manual processes. With this strategic partnership, HP and Microsoft will also collaborate on an engineering road map for joint products including data management machines using the new SQL Server MPP database option when it is announced, pre-packaged application solution bundles, comprehensive virtualization offerings and integrated management tools. Read more of this post

Kickfire Disrupts DW Economics, Targets Mainstream ADBMS Opportunities

In just 18 months, Kickfire has established itself as one of the most intriguing of the ADBMS insurgents. It espouses a radical go-to-market strategy: target the overwhelming majority of the market in the sub-5Tb space, and let others battle over who’s doing best at the top end, fighting over a small group of prospects. Kickfire also takes a radically different architectural approach: it uses an “SQL chip” to run much of its work in hardware, to dramatic effect in performance.

In April 2008, the Kickfire data warehouse appliance was announced at a MySQL conference, and simultaneously the company released 100Gb and 300Gb TPC-H benchmarks  that transformed price-performance expectations at the low end of the market. 6 months later the appliance became generally available, and 6 months after that had its first production reference. Since then, the company has had two encouraging quarters, and the product is now in the hands of some two dozen early adopters, a half dozen of whom are referenceable production sites. I spent some time recently with Kickfire CEO Bruce Armstrong to discuss the story so far, and Kickfire’s recent announcement of Kickfire 1.5 and the 3000 series appliance.

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Is HP Really A Strategic Enterprise Partner? Disappointing Q3 Betrays Gaps

HP announced third quarter results, and the news wasn’t good. It wasn’t all bad, either – there are bright spots in the portfolio, although not enough. HP’s assessment of the future is upbeat, which seems to have observers all a-twitter (no pun intended.) For me, a fresh look at how HP’s portfolio is structured, and how the pieces are performing, brought its mis-positioning into sharp relief. The fact is, HP is not what it says it is: a strategic enterprise IT partner.

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