SAND Technology Starts 2010 Well After Flat 2009

ADBMS vendor SAND Technology’s report on its 2009 fiscal year seemed to offer little reason to change my earlier skeptical position on the firm. Its 2009 revenue was essentially flat at $7 million (Canadian dollars throughout). Cost of sales, R&D, and SG&A – and the firm’s net loss – were also nearly unchanged. And yet, there are changes going on, and they are positive signs, especially for a year in which the IT market will rebound. Net income for SAND’s fiscal 2010 first quarter was $553,253 on revenues of $2,485,464 – a substantial turnaround from a net loss of $989,850 on revenues of $1,223,928 for fiscal Q1 2009. One quarter is not a trend, but it is a good sign.

In 2009, SAND’s North American revenue was up and Europe down – both for the second successive year, reflecting traction where it is focusing. Both were up in fiscal Q1, VP Linda Arens tells me. A partner in Korea has begun to produce very strong results and may expand its vertical orientation beyond its foothold in banking.  SAND has a little more cash in the bank, especially after its Q1, and is talking about using some to add more direct sales staff. This would also be a transition; the direct sales team has been tiny thus far, with partners like Accenture and others driving much of the success. The company is focusing its field efforts on SAP sites – there are many of them – and this targeting is likely to help what they tell me is already a better pipeline than they have seen in some time. SAP has done several joint customer installs with SAND for its business warehouse (SAP BW.)

SAND’s technology – its “100% Indexed” tokenized data format, columnar orientation, and removal of redundant data – make it attractive to organizations that are seeking to reduce the footprint of data that doesn’t need to be “online” in the traditional sense, but still must be accessible via standard SQL, ODBC, JDBC or OLE/DB. The company has tightened its messaging somewhat, honing in on the nearline repository idea and associating it with the notion of Corporate Memory that permits rapid response to unpredictable needs.  PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certification is in test with some customers who requested it. (PCI DSS specifies requirements for security management, policies, procedures, network architecture, software design and other protective measures for customer account data.) There’s lots of competition for the “exploration warehouse” business, but focusing on ease of use, and integration with commonly used tools, is helping to break down the doors.

By comparison to many of its large competitors, SAND remains a tiny player. This manifests itself in its small sales force, a website that has no current press releases (even though many have been issued), and its relatively low profile compared to newer firms in the same space.  But it’s not alone in finding that many firms are receptive to alternative approaches to nearline analytics, and as consolidation at the top continues, SAND may well be starting a growth spurt in 2010. It belongs on my shortlist as I watch the market – and maybe on yours too.

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With this post, I add a new disclosure section to my blog. Transparency has been a frequent topic in the independent analyst circles I travel in, and I hope my readers find this useful.  I own no stock  in any technology firms. Vendors will be listed as clients if I have done paid projects for them within the past year and/or if I have a retained consultant relationship with them. Under no circumstances does my blog writing depend on these relationships – the blog is not, and never will be, written for pay.

Disclosures: SAND Technology is not a client.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

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