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

Oracle’s Exadata Refresh Ups Ante on Technology and Selling Strategy

The Exadata marketing story is unrelenting, and Oracle backed it with plenty of happy customers for analysts to query at Open World this year. The stories were compelling; I’ll mention a few below. In the analyst pitch, we were shown a couple of dozen logos – good for a still relatively new high-end, long sales cycle, longer still production ramp up, product. The numbers are not Teradata rates yet, but CEO Larry Ellison claims a $1.5B pipeline.  Whether you believe it or don’t, he’s telling the world – and if he misses by much, Wall Street will spank the stock, so personally I doubt that he’s pushing too far past his real expectations. The big news, of course, was a refresh of the product itself, as Oracle gets deeper into the power of leveraging hardware and software design together. Read more of this post

Calpont’s InfiniDB – Another ADBMS Insurgent Arises

Calpont, rapidly emerging as yet another contender in the ADBMS sweepstakes, has announced version 2.0 of InfiniDB, its columnar MPP offering over shared storage. The value proposition hits now-familiar themes: high-performance query, fast data loading, data compression, and parallelized user defined functions (UDFs), all of which are becoming key checkoff capabilities. InfiniDB also hits hard on pricing, which it says dramatically undercuts that of its competitors. And a 30-day free trial of the enterprise edition sweetens the offer. For those comfortable with open source, the 2.0 release of the  community edition is available as well. Calpont says the community edition (which is limited to a single server but is otherwise database feature-complete) has had 15,000 downloads. But the company’s relationship with Oracle for its MySQL components must be considered a risk going forward.

InfiniDB, like Infobright, is built atop Oracle’s MySQL. (I posted about Infobright last year, and it also has made significant progress, drawing favorable comment in the open source community for its continuing maturation.)  Calpont’s relationship with Oracle must be seen as a risk factor..Oracle’s recent decisions about support raise questions about its interest in supporting anyone who is not an enterprise-class user of the Oracle-branded MySQL offering. Calpont has a deal through 2012 that includes an OEM license to integrate and use MySQL as the InfiniDB branded solution, and access to the MySQL channel. What will happen beyond that is clearly a concern. Read more of this post

Aster Data Adds Columnar Storage, Puts Stake in Ground for Hybrid Multistores

Aster Data has announced its new version, nCluster 4.6, which now includes a column data store, staking a claim as the first ADBMS to combine SQL and MapReduce on a hybrid row and column MPP system. While its R&D has hitherto been focused on enabling advanced in-database analytic processing in its flagship “Data-Analytics Server, ” Aster has clearly had other irons in the fire. CTO Tasso Argyros tells me that the new column store is entirely new, written from scratch to ensure that Aster’s SQL-MR is a universal programming layer atop storage, and that its 1000+ MapReduce-ready analytic functions (and UDFs) will run on both row- and column-based data. Read more of this post

IBM Gets Feisty — Mobilizes Analytics for Oracle Battle

In July 2009, IBM announced the Smart Analytics System 7600, a workload-optimized, pre-integrated bundle of hardware and software targeted at the business analytics market. Included in that package are an IBM POWER 550 running AIX, storage, plus InfoSphere Warehouse Enterprise Edition (which consists of DB2, Warehouse design and management tools + Cubing, Data Mining and Text Analytics services), and Cognos 8 Business Intelligence, configured and tuned, and “health check” features. Accommodations are made if the customer already has licensed some of the software and wants to use it on the platform; in this sense, the software is described as “optional.” This month, IBM broadened the story and upped the ante, making Smart Analytics System a key weapon in its widening battle with Oracle.

This post is a slightly updated version of a piece that appeared in the PUND-IT newsletter. Read more of this post

IBM’s Smart Analytics System: More Than An Appliance?

When is an appliance not an appliance? When it’s more. On July 28, IBM’s Software Group and Systems and Technology Group (i.e., the hardware folks) hosted an analyst event to introduce the Smart Analytics System.The discussion began with a series of conversations about the value of “workload optimization,” or the effective tuning of processors, storage, memory and network components with software used for information management.  Not controversial, but hardly news. IBM claims to be raising the bar, though, with the promise of a system that is already tuned, and attuned to the needs of its purchaser, at a level far beyond appliances that other vendors have delivered: appliances, if you will, not only predesigned for specific use cases, but customized for specific instances of those use cases. It’s no accident that IBM never called the Smart Analytics System an “appliance.” Extending the Smart brand here is a powerful move, and IBM appears poised to make good on its promise. Read more of this post

Infobright Bids to Anchor An Open Source DW Ecosystem

I recently sat down for a talk with Miriam Tuerk, CEO of Infobright – an open source, commodity hardware-based analytic database (ADBMS) vendor focused on the data warehousing market. Infobright is another of the leaders in the open source information management wave IT Market Strategy has been tracking. Founded in 2006, Infobright has assembled a remarkable team now committed to exploiting this economic model to reduce the startup costs of data warehousing. Like other open source players, MySQL-based Infobright has two versions: a Community Edition (ICE, whose community gathers at www.infobright.org) and an Enterprise Edition (IEE). This bifurcation allows it to distribute starter software broadly at minimal direct cost, then upsell; along the way, it gets to tap into the vibrant innovation provided by the user community that forms. As the product matures, such vendors fund the more hardened features large firms require by charging them for those added capabilities that they need. And now (July 7), Infobright has partnered with Jaspersoft for tighter integration with a report server and OLAP analysis. Read more of this post

Sand Technology a Risky Bet

It’s a shame that Sand Technology isn’t doing better, because the technology is apparently quite good and has been for years. Decades, indeed, but after all that time, Sand is a US$7M firm. Why is that? Their June visit to the Boulder BI Braintrust (BBBT) offered some clues. And some followup into public filings paints an unattractive financial picture that suggests any prospects should proceed with extreme caution. Sand’s phenomenal compression of data for “nearline storage” and analysis sounds good, but it’s hard to ignore their finances. Read more of this post

What To Expect at Sapphire? Breya Hints At BO-BWA Connection

IT Market Strategy recently sat down with Marge Breya, Executive Vice President & GM Intelligence Platform & NetWeaver of SAP BusinessObjects, to discuss the first full year of life within SAP after being acquired at the beginning of 2008. Breya oversees full product line responsibility for BI and information management  solutions, as well as the company’s OnDemand business. In addition, Breya is responsible for solution management of SAP NetWeaver within the Technology Group at SAP AG. Prior to joining SAP via the Business Objects acquisition, Breya served in a number of executive roles at BEA Systems, where she was senior vice president (SVP), CMO, and chief strategy officer (CSO); and Sun Microsystems, where she served in various executive management roles. In this excerpt form our conversation, the discussion turned to how the BO portfolio and the SAP portfolio would combine for greater leverage.

You’re busy right now thinking about the developmental opportunities for how [your] portfolios work together. Read more of this post

DB2 9.7 Focuses on Costs, Simpler Management

IBM has announced, a bit earlier than originally planned, DB2 9.7 as well as InfoSphere Warehouse 9.7 (we’ll cover the latter in another post). A steady 3rd place in the DBMS market behind Oracle and Microsoft, DB2 nonetheless continues to make gains. IBM claims that its non-mainframe (IBM calls it “distributed”) DB2 revenue grew at a compounded 14% rate for the last 12 quarters. And in the face of a very difficult economic environment, IBM claims 30% growth for distributed DB2 in Q408. Read more of this post

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