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

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

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

Want Broader BI Usage? Crystal Reports Founders Offer Indicee

Mark Cunningham has reunited some of the team that built Crystal Reports (now part of SAP Business Objects) and launched Indicee, a SaaS-based BI reporting play that is pointed squarely at the continuing difficulty of extending BI beyond its seemingly permanent minority usage model.

It’s commonly understood that users continue to fend for themselves manually, moving data to spreadsheets for analytic manipulation because IT is unable to respond quickly enough to their needs. Indicee tackles this by re-using existing report and spreadsheet content (not surprisingly, Crystal reports lead the source list), moving it to the cloud for data mart-based interaction, and innovating a different approach to user interaction. It’s worth a look, and a free download for trial use sweetens the deal. Read more of this post

SAP Promises Acceleration on a “Clear Path” – Will it Be Enough?

The economic slowdown was not kind to SAP in 2009, and as it launched the annual Influencer Summit on December 8th, change was in the air. Messages were shifting. “Sustainability” got a big push, and there was a ringing commitment to substantial, dramatic product change to be delivered in 2010. Different faces were on display: there was no Leo Apotheker or Bill McDermott on the stage, although Board members Jim Hagemann Snabe and John Schwarz held down the fort with new Marketing EVP Jonathan Becher and CTO Vishal Sikka in key speaking slots. Like the dances I went to in high school, the event was mostly date-free, but direct questions elicited some specific, though uncommitted, statements about deliveries in 2010, especially from Marge Breya. Read more of this post

Xkoto’s Database Virtualization Expands Cloud Opportunities

Xkoto, the database virtualization pioneer, has generated substantial interest since its first deployments in 2006. Still privately held and in investment mode, Xkoto sees profitability on the horizon, but offers no target date, and appears in no hurry. Its progress has been steady: in early 2008, a B round of financing led by GrandBanks Capital allowed a step up to 50 employees as the company crossed the 50 customer mark. 2008 also saw Xkoto adding support for Microsoft SQL Server to its IBM DB2 base. Charlie Ungashick, VP of marketing for Xkoto, says that 2009 has been going well, and the third quarter was quite strong. And at the end of September 2009, Xkoto announced GRIDSCALE version 5.1, which adds new cluster management capabilities to its active-active configuration model, as well as Amazon EC2 availability. Read more of this post

Teradata Transition On Course in Steady Quarter, With Exciting New Offerings Ahead

How good was Teradata’s Q3? Not bad, but no improvement over a so far lackluster year, which nonetheless has seen the stock  price rise steadily. In 2008,  the striking rise in Teradata’s Linux revenue growth was matched only by the corresponding drop in its Unix revenue, and that “steady as she goes” performance continues through its still unevenly applied OS transition. In Q3, revenues were down a little (3%) year over year, and margin was flat (down 0.6%). YTD product revenues are down 11%.  Service revenues were up 5% for the quarter but only 2% YTD.  Still, net income rose 5%, in part because of strong expense controls. Since early 2008, Teradata has lost a little momentum through a difficult economy compared to its rivals at Oracle and IBM. Its next transition – after independence from NCR and the OS shift – is a product portfolio change catalyzed by the growth of appliance competitors like Netezza. So far, Teradata has managed to drive the product changes into the market well, claiming 65% of its appliance sales are new names. The hot new all-SSD Extreme Performance Appliance is now coming on-stream, and will create a new category advantage if, as Teradata believes, there are customers willing to pay for its spectacular performance. Read more of this post

Will AEP Replace RDBMS? A Dialogue With Charles Brett

Analytic Event Processing (AEP) is hot. But does it mean RDBMS begins to decline in importance? Charles Brett of C3B Consulting and I recently had a quick dialogue about it and came up with different conclusions. That conversation is reproduced here. It’s only the beginning – l hope you will weigh in with your thoughts. Read more of this post

More From The Low End: DynamoDB is the New Lucid

LucidDB (aka “the best database for BI you don’t know about”) has a commercial version on the way at last. Nick Goodman, a longtime user active in the Eigenbase and other related open source communities, has stepped in. Nick has a consulting practice that builds BI implementations (many using Lucid and Pentaho), and he’s now spun out a firm called Dynamo Business Intelligence to issue and support a product to be called DynamoDB. He often  found his BI clients asking what to use for a database – the default was MySQL, but he loves Lucid’s features and performance, and so it seemed like time. Nick’s blog can be found here.

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Pentaho Goes “Open Core” With Lucidera OLAP Viewer

Open-source BI vendor Pentaho has purchased technology rights from failed BI SaaS vendor LucidEra, and plans to combine LucidEra’s Clearview, a reporting and analysis OLAP front end for non-technical users, with the Mondrian open source OLAP engine used by Pentaho Analysis,  in a new offering called Pentaho Analyzer Enterprise Edition, available both on-premise and on-demand. Clearview will not be available in the free community edition of Pentaho. Existing Pentaho Analysis Enterprise Edition and Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition customers will not be charged additional fees. Clearview adds substantial value to the priced portion of Pentaho’s portfolio – another example of the “open core” business model. Open core is not without its detractors, and a brief flurry of chatter erupted about it in the blogosphere. Read more of this post