The action in the data warehouse/analytic database space has been hot and heavy over the past couple weeks, with new funding, acquisitions and partnerships announced seemingly every day. I don’t think it will slow down any time soon. In fact, I predict a few more big acquisitions coming down the pike.
But before we look at those predictions, a recap is in order. Here’s what happened just since Sept. 15:
- IBM bought Netezza for $1.7 billion.
- Cloudera partnered first with Teradata, then with EMC Greenplum.
- NetApp and ParAccel announced a partnership.
- Aster Data Systems announced another $30 million in funding.
- Oracle rolled out its latest and greatest Exadata system.
Add to this EMC’s purchase of Greenplum during July and SAP’s purchase of Sybase in May, and you see a market in perpetual motion. The question, it seems, isn’t whether another data warehousing or analytic database vendor will get snatched up, but rather, who will be bought next and when.
From my perspective, remaining acquisition targets are Aster Data, ParAccel, Teradata and Vertica. However, they might have precious little say in who comes courting. It’s a little easier to predict who might be going shopping:
Dell needs to do something to prove it can offer value beyond servers, management and mid-tier storage. With Netezza off the table, Teradata seems like a strong candidate for acquisition. However, Aster Data’s latest funding round included an undisclosed strategic investor, which could be Dell. Dell already provides the foundation for Aster Data’s MapReduce Data Warehouse Appliance; Aster’s massively parallel flagship software is an ideal fit with Dell’s red-hot hyperscale division.
HP is competing with Oracle and IBM to offer customers everything they need — from servers to storage to software. It wouldn’t be surprising to see HP snatch up any remaining targets. Database software is a glaring hole in HP’s lineup, and it doesn’t want to rely on an increasingly unfriendly Oracle for too much longer. It’s noteworthy, however, that Teradata’s appliance line-up offers a nice apples-to-apples comparison against Oracle’s Exadata and IBM’s new Netezza products.
Acquisition-happy Oracle has its databases covered, but a scale-out company like Aster Data could complement its current scale-up analytics strategy. After all, it bought data-grid vendor Tangosol when it became clear that e-commerce companies were choosing the technology over Oracle for their OLTP needs.
This is a long-shot given Cisco’s relatively limited data center strategy, but bear with my reasoning. Cisco’s move into servers helped spark the race toward converged infrastructure, but it’s not the only game in town. If customers really do want integrated stacks, HP, IBM and Oracle already can one-up Cisco on the software side. A data warehouse component would help Cisco compete in a key area, and it could have a compelling story to tell around moving data between and among data centers and the cloud.
I don’t really see Microsoft making a move, but its presence in the database market means I can’t rule out the possibility. As Redmond focuses its attention on Windows Azure and the rest of its cloud services, it might — and probably should — be content with confining its data-warehousing business to SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse.
Of course, data warehousing is just a fraction of the burgeoning Big Data market, albeit the most-proven segment in terms of customer adoption and knowledge. Hadoop is gaining popularity for storing and analyzing unstructured data. It’s increasingly integrated with existing data warehousing and BI tools, so commercial Hadoop startups could get hot. I think partner-friendly Cloudera will be the first to get bought, but Datameer could be a target because of its spreadsheet-based, Hadoop-powered analytics solution.
The bottom line is that data is piling up; customers want manage it and derive as much insight as possible from it. Vendors like IBM and Oracle have known this for years; now the rest of the IT space is catching on. If you’re into watching markets evolve and making predictions as to who’ll end up where, this is a great space to follow.
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