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

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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More TDWI Notes – ParAccel Rolling On, HP Stalled, Vertica Leading Insurgents

On my second day at TDWI, I was in meetings all day – events like this are a great opportunity for analysts to catch up with many of the companies they follow at one time, and this particular one was packed with sponsors. Congrats to the folks who sell sponsorships – they had a packed exhibit hall, and a lot of very interested attendees. I got a chance to chat at a few booths (all buzzing), ask a few attendees some real-world questions (and was asked some surprising ones myself), and get a sense of the workload in the trenches (heavy and growing.)

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Sybase SQL Anywhere 12 Extends Mobile Leadership

In my coverage of SAP’s Sybase acquisition, I noted that SQL Anywhere is a best kept secret among more than 20,000 developers who relish its ease of embedding and minimal database administration. Now Sybase is about to release its next version, SQL Anywhere 12, with ambitions to add to its claimed ten million users worldwide using SQL Anywhere-powered applications. Geospatial features, key to mobile applications, will feature prominently. Read more of this post

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

Tableau Breaks Out With Advanced Visualization

When I last spoke to business analytics vendor Tableau Software in April 2009, the company had run off a string of uninterrupted growth. In a  challenging 2009, Tableau continued to grow, and in our most recent conversation the team was upbeat. Q1 was looking very good, and the company has over 4000 named accounts now. Its revenue  growth was about 50% overall at the end of the year, and direct sales are growing faster than indirect as its sales model shifts with increased visibility. Tableau is among the leaders of the new advanced visualization players, and the battle is heating up. Read more of this post

Sybase’s DBMS Business Shows Sea Legs – But Challenges Lay Ahead

Sybase has rolled out a good Q2 in difficult times, reflecting once again the steady, effective management that has characterized the past few years. All-time highs in margins, earnings, and cash flow – coming at the bottom (one hopes) of the current recession – are nothing to sneeze at. The first highlighted item in chairman John Chen’s earnings call was double digit growth in database license revenue, showing that the flagship still has some sea legs. He claimed 250 new ASE customers in the quarter – “we generally get 800-900 per year,” he added. There were 60 new IQ customers, half of who are non-ASE.  Sybase IQ sees Teradata, Netezza and occasionally Vertica  as competitors. Good performance, but will it be good enough?

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Aster Appliance Elevates MapReduce Chatter, ADBMS Visibility

Since my last post about Aster, the analytic DBMS (ADBMS) vendor has added another arrow to its quiver. Its new MapReduce Data Warehouse Appliance Express Edition starts at $50,000, and includes Aster nCluster on Dell hardware and a copy of MicroStrategy BI software for up to 1 Tb of user data, which Aster clearly sees as a sweet spot. (MicroStrategy has been doing a lot of seeding with the ADBMSs lately; it also has  an introductory bundling deal with Sybase IQ.)  Delivering a ‘compute rich’ appliance on commodity hardware, with reduced operating costs, certainly hits all the right notes. But is 1 Tb  the sweet spot for MapReduce? I think not – although it makes a great starting point, and that may be Aster’s real opportunity – give ‘em a taste of what SQL plus MapReduce can do, and watch them demand more and more. And sell it to them. Dell and MicroStrategy should love this strategy - if it works. Read more of this post

ParAccel Rocks the TPC-H – Will See Added Momentum

ParAccel, another of the analytic database upstarts, has weighed in on Sun hardware with a record-shattering benchmark that its competitors have thus far avoided – the 30 TB TPC-H. It’s been two years since anyone has published a 30 TB TPC-H, and only 10 of any size (all smaller) have been published in the past year. One can scoff (many do) at this venerable institution, but TPC benchmarks are a rite of passage, and a badge of engineering prowess. The ParAccel Analytic Database (PADB) has set new records, raising its profile dramatically in one fell swoop. PADB came in at 16x the price/performance of Oracle, the prior leader (and only other vendor willing to tackle the 30Tb benchmark to date.) PADB, running on Sun Opteron 2356 servers, Sun Fire™ X4540 storage servers and OpenSolaris™, was 7x faster on queries and 4.6x faster loading the data than the 2 year old Oracle result. And because of its architecture, the construction and tuning of indexes and partitioning strategies were not needed. TPC rules are specific about having product in GA within 90 days, so one can expect to see PADB version 2.0, on which the benchmark was based, out in Q3.

ParAccel has seen some skepticism in the analyst community because of its relatively small published number of customers. It claims a dozen, and half are listed on its web site. Other vendors, like Vertica and Greenplum, have been very forthcoming promoting theirs, but both have more time in the market. PADB was released in Q4 2007 and really began its arc in 2008; Vertica has a year head start, and Greenplum even more. Rumors have also floated about whether CTO and founder Barry Zane was leaving. I had a conversation with Barry in late June to discuss the business and the benchmarks. He was clearly excited about the benchmarks, in which he was very involved, even working on the full disclosure report personally  – “It got to be like a hobby for me,” he said – and he was quite clear that he is not going anywhere. Read more of this post

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