Cloudera Convenes Colleagues to Crunch Content (Make Mine Membase)

Over the past two years, Cloudera has demonstrated the power of surrounding emerging open source software with support services, expertise and its own IP. The firm has  racked up over 30 customers since its founding in late 2008, and emerged as the leading source of Apache Hadoop. Cloudera’s recent C round of financing brought its funding to $36 million, and it has been investing aggressively, with 45 employees, a very visible voice on the Big Data circuit and a stellar, experienced leadership team. It evangelizes through training, thought leadership, and increasingly through a growing sales and marketing team. Cloudera deserves a full post of its own; I hope to get to that before yearend.

One indicator of Cloudera’s precocity has been its prioritization of key alliances – higher than many firms its size – and that strategy is likely to have a big payoff if the partnerships are well executed and bring the marketplace momentum and the value they promise to fruition. Two key recent announcements involved Membase and Informatica. I’ll discuss the latter in another post – here I’ll talk about why the Membase deal makes so much sense. Read more of this post

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

Oracle Exadata: Early Signs Promising

Exadata is looking good. In the past few months, I’ve had the chance to talk to several early adopters of Oracle Exadata V2, some in connection with a sponsored white paper Oracle has just published. It’s still early, but I see this product as a milestone, regardless of its commercial success. That is still to be determined, although I wouldn’t bet against it. How it will be affected by Oracle’s execution of the Sun acquisition is another open question, and the recent surprise layoffs, which showed that either the announced expectations were laughably off base or Ellison’s early announcements about  hiring plans were less than candid, don’t bode too well for the near term. Rob Enderle made some strong and provocative points in his guest post here. 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

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

IBM’s Smart Analytics System: More Than An Appliance?

When is an appliance not an appliance? When it’s more. On July 28, IBM’s Software Group and Systems and Technology Group (i.e., the hardware folks) hosted an analyst event to introduce the Smart Analytics System.The discussion began with a series of conversations about the value of “workload optimization,” or the effective tuning of processors, storage, memory and network components with software used for information management.  Not controversial, but hardly news. IBM claims to be raising the bar, though, with the promise of a system that is already tuned, and attuned to the needs of its purchaser, at a level far beyond appliances that other vendors have delivered: appliances, if you will, not only predesigned for specific use cases, but customized for specific instances of those use cases. It’s no accident that IBM never called the Smart Analytics System an “appliance.” Extending the Smart brand here is a powerful move, and IBM appears poised to make good on its promise. Read more of this post