IBM STG Trip Report: Hardware-Software Synergy Yielding Dividends

Every year in the fourth quarter, IBM assembles its Systems & Technology Group (STG – the hardware guys) executives for discussions with the analyst community to review results and discuss the year ahead. STG’s Senior VP Rod Adkins teed up this year’s meeting with a reminder that STG and Software Group (SWG) both now report to Steve Mills, SVP and Group Executive – Software & Systems. This change naturally suggests the possibilities for increased synergies between the two parts of IBM, and although much collaboration has been in place over the years, IBM’s attention to leveraging the opportunity has clearly come into sharper focus. The interaction was a recurrent theme. Read more of this post

Microsoft Leaps Late, Lags with SQL Server PDW

Microsoft chose a user group meeting, Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), for the rollout of its long-awaited, and late, SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (note, yet again, how foolish it is for vendors to trap themselves with dates in product names.) PDW is late to market; there are other MPP DBMS players there already, and Microsoft is behind in functionality compared to some of them. Some of the most eagerly–awaited features are evidently not slated for the first release. It’s also far behind its originally planned ship date following the acquisition of DatAllegro in 2008. Read more of this post

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

At Oracle, Closed May be the New Open. Whither MySQL?

I hope I can be forgiven the cute headline. It speaks to a series of events that were heard in Oracle Open World messaging, where the word “open” appeared much less frequently than in years past. Oracle is fortifying its borders, opening new fronts in its market battles, and slowly closing itself off from some former partners and community relationships. It’s Fortress Oracle time. Its overall posture has hardened, and the implications for any but the largest MySQL customers are worrisome.

Many actions support this interpretation. The “fork you” message to Red Hat at OOW was an obvious indicator, tightening the OS play that accompanies the hardware ownership now rounding out Oracle’s full-stack story. Now, a few weeks later, Oracle’s move to drop low-end MySQL support, abandoning/conceding low-end customers to others, seems indicative both of Oracle’s willingness to move away from “open,” and to minimize investment in low-end customers. Mark Hurd is the new owner of support, and his reputation for cost-cutting should not be ignored in considering this; moreover, Windows is the majority platform for MySQL, and Oracle doesn’t want to invest there either. 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

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

Database Benchmarks – The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Yes, I know – not everyone believes database benchmarks are useful. My position is that there is value in benchmarks’ role in helping engineers wring out bottlenecks, bugs and performance impediments in their products. Berni Schiefer, Technical Executive , Information Management Performance and Benchmarks for DB2, MDM and SolidDB, recently told me that “every time we run [TPC-C] we are astonished at how effectively it hammers every element of the system. We always find bugs, room for tuning. It’s the nastiest, most punishing combination there is.” Read more of this post

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

Attunity Scores a Win With RMS CDC Support

Today’s email brought a reminder of an old, valued data format: RMS. When I posted about Attunity earlier this year, I noted the value of its replication and changed data capture (CDC) technology as the major software infrastructure vendors continue to look at ways to consolidate the management of their customer’s data assets. Attunity is in the rare position of having its software OEMd by many of them somewhere in their portfolios; IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft [edit – removed Sybase, listed due to my error] all use and sometimes resell Attunity’s technology. RMS is a more recent addition to Attunity’s CDC portfolio, and its win at Southeastern Freight Lines bodes well for a new addition to its revenue stream. Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,986 other followers