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

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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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

Oracle Idol: Screven Delivers on MySQL Promises, But Judges’ Votes Uncertain

Larry Ellison did not speak at the O’Reilly MySQL event.  While the Register was correct to say “Oracle executives are fanning out to woo open sourcers,” in its sharp-tongued review, Larry was not among them.  Perhaps he saw what was coming. Neither the audience nor the event tweetstream was friendly. Twitter descriptions suggested that the MySQL crowd was sitting on its hands as Edward Screven, Oracle Chief Architect, took the stage (click to see the speech)  to address the future of MySQL under Oracle. Read more of this post

Sybase Will Step Up In-Memory Message With New Release

Sybase has quietly racked up a string of successful growth years, riding its pioneering status in commercial analytic databases (ADBMS) and holding on to its loyal base in everyday DBMS after being elbowed aside by Oracle a decade ago. Its steady market performance has not been driven by dramatic innovations: Sybase has seemed to lag the Big Three (Oracle, Microsoft and IBM) in new feature/function. But it has innovated: IQ has grown into a key revenue source, and Sybase RAP has established itself as one of the more successful event processing offerings, with a string of Wall Street customers creating a new class of applications.

In the current (5-year-old) major release level of its flagship Adaptive Server Enterprise (ASE) product, Sybase has added user-defined SQL functions, support for plugin Java Runtime Environment (JRE) and JVM components, xml tables, SQL statement replication, new statistical aggregate functions, and a shared disk cluster edition. And now, Sybase is about to add new in-memory database capabilities and step up its support for external storage management. I’ve spent some time recently with the Sybase team to discuss their plans for the upcoming 15.5 release (currently available in a developer version), and found palpable excitement about the possibilities of their new work. Read more of this post

GoldenGate Software Buy a Win for Oracle

Oracle today announced it is buying GoldenGate Software for an undisclosed sum, likely a couple of hundred million dollars. To revisit some facts from an earlier post, Goldengate had been in business 15 years, with some 500 customers, 4000 solutions deployed, and strong partnerships with Oracle, Teradata and Ingres on the database side, and Microstrategy and Amdocs in the app and BI space. Their message revolved around 3 key attributes of their changed-data-based replication technology: heterogeneity, real-time (log-based) performance, and high-volume transactional support. Read more of this post

Can GoldenGate Software Continue to Grow Transactional Replication?

GoldenGate Software may not be a well-known name, except in circles where transactional replication is a hot topic, but after 15 years in business, they have assembled a sizable base of some 500 customers, with 4000 solutions deployed, and partnerships with vendors as diverse as Teradata and Ingres on the database side, and Microstrategy and Amdocs in the app and BI space. Their message revolves around 3 key attributes of their changed-data-based replication technology: heterogeneity, real-time (log-based) performance, and high-volume transactional support (committed only.) And despite their notoriously closed-mouthed approach to their finances, it’s fair to say that they are generating tens of millions of dollars in revenue yearly (Hoover’s says $9.7M in 2007, but I believe that’s very low), so it’s evident the marketplace is interested. The big question is whether GoldenGate will invest to sustain and grow sales, or watch larger competitors competitors take their market away, now that they’re on the radar. Read more of this post

Sybase Delivers Another Strong Quarter, Rep Server Refresh

Sybase is celebrating. Let everyone else complain about the bad economy; the perennial “Tier 1A” database, mobility and analytics vendor just had its best quarter ever to kick off 2009 – its 6th consecutive record quarter. With 14% growth in license revenue (31% in database) and a margin of 21%, there is certainly much to be happy about. The company is particularly happy to point to its highest-ever quarterly cash flow from operations – $97.4 million. The investment in messaging continues to generate substantial results: at $43.4M, it was nearly 17% of the firm’s revenue. Sybase seems at last to have anchored itself solidly in the billion dollar club.sybase Read more of this post

Dataupia – Optimism for 2009

I recently had the chance to chat with John O’Brien, CTO and co-founder of MPP data warehouse appliance vendor Dataupia (pronounced like “utopia”). He was in an upbeat mood, as the company leverages the recent addition to its B round of financing secured late last year to drive business to the next level. With a new CEO (former Cognos senior vice president of world operations Tony Sirianni), a growing number of references, prospects turning into customers, and OEM partners supplementing its growing direct sales force, prospects appear good. Now fielding some 60 employees in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dataupia can press their value proposition of being “well matched to prospects’ needs for lower price, flexibility, and minimal execution costs for changing or supplementing existing architectures.”

Dataupia is climbing the scale lists – its largest install is 150 TB at Subex, hosting an OSS system for British Telecom. Marketing VP Samantha Stone has begun to push out press releases touting customer wins, always an encouraging sign. The wins in telecom are being supplemented by opportunities in other spaces such as the intriguing traffic information analysis system at ITIS (details on the company’s web site). New solution categories highlight the emerging opportunities that follow an economic change like the one appliances are driving. “We’ve taken another zero off the cost,” says O’Brien. “Now it’s a matter of only a few tens of thousands to get started on applications that seemed out of reach before for many firms.”

O’Brien believes that a key differentiator is that customers don’t connect to Dataupia directly, but through their primary platform: Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and now IBM DB2 (although no production references for the latter are available yet.) “When customers hit a pain point, architecture is a constraint for other DBMSs. We appear to be a data store for that database, so the style of application design and usage doesn’t need to change.” Dataupia can use transactional tables from the primary DBMS  – their optimizers sit atop its added one.  Multidimensional aggregates can replace materialized views. So, “agility” becomes a key message. Teardown and reconfiguration are easier, hence faster and cheaper. Less DBA optimization time and quick install are powerful value propositions.

To get to the next level, Dataupia will have to add some features: replication, disaster recovery and internationalization top customer wish lists. As Dataupia turns its sights from getting early reference customers to using its improving finances to drive growth, its more formalized structure and sales processes should help it move towards another financing round as the economy turns upward next year. Then, O’Brien asserts, the firm will aspire to much more rapid expansion.