EMC Greenplum puts a social spin on big data

Greenplum, the analytics division of EMC (s emc), has announced new software that lets data analysts explore all their organization’s data and share interesting findings and data sets Facebook-style among their colleagues. The product is called Chorus, and it wraps around EMC’s Greenplum Database and Hadoop distribution, making all that data available for the data team work with.

The pitch here is about unifying the analytic database and Hadoop environments and making it as easy and collaborative as possible to work with data, since EMC thinks a larger percentage of employees will have to figure out how to analyze business data. Plus, because EMC doesn’t have any legacy database or business intelligence products to protect, the entire focus of the Greenplum division is on providing the best big-data experience possible.

Although many people will most-easily connect with the social aspect of Chorus because it resembles the Facebook interface they’re used to, Greenplum senior director of product marketing Michael Maxey told me data exploration might be the most-significant feature. As he explains it, data from both the database and Hadoop are indexed and accessible from Chorus, but are also searchable via an interface present on every window within the program. Once someone finds a data set to experiment with, Chorus lets them launch a sandbox environment and start analyzing the data with just a few clicks.

Chorus has been in the works since before EMC bought Greenplum in July 2010, but the product appears to have been placed on the back burner while the companies worked through the integration of the analytics-focused Greenplum into the storage-focused EMC. The timing is good, however, as it gives EMC a solid story to tell customers wanting to know how its big data story is different from those of fellow mega-vendors Oracle(s orcl), IBM (s ibm) and others.

That’s all well and good, but EMC and every other large vendor is competing against some scrappy, but very smart, startups such as Cloudera, Hortonworks and Odiago that know the Hadoop part of the equation cold. Greenplum is doing some cool things, but unless it and its well-heeled brethren go on a buying spree to snatch up innovative IP, they might have a harder time than they think convincing customers to buy into their one-stop-shop visions of what big data should be instead of taking a chance on smaller software players.

Image courtesy of Flickr user qwrrty.