Hadoop Distributions And Kids’ Soccer

The big players are moving in for a piece of the big data action.  IBM, EMC, and NetApp have stepped up their messaging, in part to prevent startup upstarts like Cloudera from cornering the Apache Hadoop distribution market. They are all elbowing one another to get closest to “pure Apache” while still “adding value.” Numerous other startups have emerged, with greater or lesser reliance on, and extensions or substitutions for, the core Apache distribution. Yahoo! has found a funding partner and spun its team out, forming a new firm called Hortonworks, whose claim to fame begins with an impressive roster responsible for most of the code in the core Hadoop projects. Think of the Doctor Seuss children’s book featuring that famous elephant, and you’ll understand the name.

While we’re talking about kids – ever watch young kids play soccer? Everyone surrounds the ball. It takes years to learn their position on the field and play accordingly. There are emerging alphas, a few stragglers on the sidelines hoping for a chance to play, community participants – and a clear need for governance. Tech markets can be like that, and with 1600 attendees packing late June’s Hadoop Summit event, all of those scenarios were playing out. Leaders, new entrants, and the big silents, like the absent Oracle and Microsoft.

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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

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

Migrate From Mainframe? To What?

From Joe Clabby, www.clabbyanalytics.com

Gartner, the industry’s preeminent information technology (IT) research and analysis firm, has published several reports and case studies over the past few years that promote the idea that IT buyers should migrate their applications off of mainframes and move them to other, more “modern platforms”.  Part of Gartner’s logic, it appears, is that there is an impending-doom shortage of mainframe managers that is about to occur as elderly mainframe managers retire — so Gartner implies that moving applications to other “more modern” platforms might ensure the long term viability of enterprise applications on those platforms.

I have two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and its recommendation:

  1. Where is the proof that mainframe skills will decline to critical levels over the next several years?  And,
  2. Which “modern platform” is Gartner advocating? Read more of this post

The Mainframe Skills Shortage Urban Myth

Contributed by Joe Clabby (www.clabbyanalytics.com)

In this CounterOpinion, we challenge the advice and opinions of the Gartner Group, a well-known and highly respected IT research and analysis firm, on the subject of IBM System z (mainframe) migration. In March, 2007, Gartner put forward research suggesting that, due to the aging of the current generation of System z managers, mainframe customers might someday find themselves short of the skilled labor they need to manage their systems.  As a result, Gartner recommended that organizations might want to consider moving from mainframes to other, “more modern” platforms. (This opinion is still available on the company’s web site — search for the “Impact of Generational IT Skill Shift on Legacy Applications” [document ID number: G00146492]). Since that first report, Gartner has published other reports suggesting that enterprises reevaluate their application portfolios — and move various applications to (again) “more modern” platforms. (Note: Gartner never quite articulates which more modern platforms it is talking about…).

Clabby Analytics has two major issues with Gartner’s perspective and advice:

  1. Where is the proof that there has been/will be a major decline in mainframe skills that should cause IT executives to abandon their mainframe platforms? And,
  2. Which “more modern” platform(s) does Gartner have in mind? 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

New TPC-H Record – Virtualized by ParAccel, VMware

You can set performance records in a virtualized environment – that’s the message of the new 1 Tb TPC-H benchmark record (scroll down to see the 1Tb results) just released by ParAccel and VMware. Running on VMware’s vSphere 4, the ParAccel Analytic Database (PADB) delivered a one-two punch: not only the top performance number for a 1 terabyte (TB) benchmark, but the top price-performance number as well. The results in a nutshell: 1,316,882 Composite Queries per Hour (QphH), a price/performance of 70 cents/QphH, and a data load rate of over 3.5 TBs per hour. ParAccel moved quickly to promote the result; oddly, VMware seems to have been asleep at the switch, with no promotion on its site as the release hit the wires, and a bland quote from a partner exec in the release itself.

Read more of this post

Microsoft Ends Itanium Support — Parsing the Clues

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. – I’m delighted to welcome Charles as a contributor. This piece was published in the PUND-IT newsletter.

In a blog, Dan Reger, senior technical product manager for Microsoft’s Windows Server group, announced that Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Visual Studio 2010 will be the last Microsoft products to support Intel’s Itanium microprocessor architecture. Mainstream support for Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-based Systems (and R2) will end, in accordance with Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle Policy, on July 9, 2013, while extended support will continue until July 10, 2018. Read more of this post

And Then There Were Three: POWER, x86 and z

by Joe Clabby, President, Clabby Analytics. Updated from a November 2009 publication

There is a major shakeout underway in the midrange/high-end server marketplace as sales of Sun SPARC/CMT (cellular multi-threading) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Itanium-based servers decline significantly — and as new, more powerful versions of Intel’s Xeon and IBM’s POWER micro-architectures come to market. 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