Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 4

Halfway across the world you go to breakfast and see a neighbor is in your hotel too. How often does it happen? Today I saw an SAP colleague I worked with two decades ago at Sybase – and his colleague, with whom I’ll meet while in Singapore. Great start to the day.

This day was all business. Met several Gartner clients to talk Big Data (since that was my billing.) Interest is high, and like North American firms, one of the key questions, as always, is Value. “What are people doing? What is proving useful from a business perspective?”

Gartner’s local office is beautiful – two floors in a thriving business neighborhood in one of the world’s most vibrant cities. I was told per capita income here is the second highest in the world, and the way the city is kept continues to impress: clean, efficient, beautifully designed and planted with fabulous flora everywhere. Our people here are professional, motivated, friendly and prepared for all our meetings, making sure I know who we’re meeting with and why.

It was a busy, stimulating day capped with dinner with my colleague Arun Chandrasekaran in the Pan Pacific Hotel’s restaurant. Multiple serving stations with different cuisines: Indian, Cantonese, Japanese…. that marvelous Singaporean polyglot cuisine I love. And if the food was good, the conversation was even better. Arun and I talked about how his infrastructure research and my software focus converged in big data and what our next collaboration should be after the Hadoop pilots piece we’re nearing completion on now.

Closing the day with a little BBC World in my room, I watched the pre-election coverage, amused by the overloading of the “battleground states” metaphor when I switched to CNN. They even referred to reporters “embedded” there. Please. Thank goodness this overpriced, overheated exercise will soon be complete. And after all the sound and fury, I don’t expect much will have changed.

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

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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EMC Buys Greenplum – Big Data Realignment Continues

EMC’s acquisition of Greenplum, announced today as a cash transaction, reaffirms the obvious: the Big Data tsunami upends conventional wisdom. It has already reshaped the market, spawning the most ferment in the RDBMS (and non-R DBMS via the noSQL players) space in years. When I first posted on Greenplum over a year ago, I said that

Open source + capital has created an intriguing new model of rapid innovation in “mature” markets, and the database space – like BI – is not a done deal. It is indeed possible to escape the gravity well, if you execute. Greenplum is getting it done, and is among the new stars to watch.”

Why the open source reference? Greenplum uses a parallelization layer atop PostgreSQL (like Aster, another of the new breed of ADBMS.)

Now EMC has written the next chapter in that story. In the process, it adds a new piece (after literally dozens of others in the past few years) to its own portfolio, which already includes unstructured data (via Documentum) and virtualization (via VMWare), layered in among the industry-leading storage and information management pieces. Disruptive? You bet. Is EMC finished? I doubt it. Candidates? BI tools, ETL, MDM, data integration come to mind. Losers? At least one big one. Read on. Read more of this post

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

Attunity – An Independent Alternative For Data Replication

Attunity (ATTUF), a small OTC-traded company out of Massachusetts, is quietly building up its base, expanding a 1000-customer foothold in real-time change data capture (CDC) and data replication that has made it one of the few remaining independent players standing. With Oracle’s acquisition of GoldenGate and SAP’s announced plan to acquire Sybase, many firms are thinking about having an alternative supplier. Attunity’s competitors these days include iWay and Progress DataDirect - few firms can offer robust support for data sources like RMS, VSAM, NonStop SQL, Enscribe and Adabas as well as common RDBMSs like DB2, SQL Server and Oracle, and that leaves Attunity a relatively wide-open opportunity. Attunity recently announced a 53% year-over-year growth in license revenues; it’s profitable (although GAAP profitability, while in sight, has yet to be achieved) and beginning to repay its debt. With less than $2M in revenues, it may well find itself an acquisition target, to boot.Attunity logo

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SapphireNow Day Two – Pump It Up

Bill McDermott began the day for Orlando attendees of SapphireNow by demonstrating that there is no charisma deficit at SAP these days, and his co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe was right there behind him to make the case that commitment and strategy are not lacking either. They welcomed Sybase, hailed the new ByDesign release about to ship, and waved the sustainability flag high, leveraging their strong position there. Read more of this post

SapphireNow Day One – Getting Virtual Events Right, And More

I got some great messages today from people who enjoyed my tweets “from” SapphireNow in Orlando – although I wasn’t there. That’s a tribute – not to me; we’re only talking tweets, for goodness’ sake – to SAP for pulling off a two-continent, video-streaming, full-on collaborative event I was able to participate in meaningfully from my desk in California. There was substance, partner announcements, customer dialogue, and star keynoters. A good day, with the best ahead, if my pre-briefs are any indication; there’s more ahead. Read more of this post

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