February 14, 2011

Now we know why Vertica has been so weirdly evasive

Communicating with Vertica has been tricky recently. But HP is now announced to be buying Vertica, which pretty much forces me to comment about Vertica. :) So I’ll indulge in a little bit of explanation as to what I know about Vertica, whether for publication or under NDA. My analysis of the HP/Vertica combination, and expectations for same, will go into another post. 

Vertica parted ways with marketing VP Dave Menninger in June. I started working with his successor, but despite seeming smart and energetic, she didn’t last long. Her successor didn’t even last long enough for me to meet him. And Vertica’s Colin Mahony, who was filling the gap, was a bit evasive.

I did have a recent NDA briefing with Vertica (Colin plus Shilpa Lawande). When I asked about announcements for this week (the TDWI conference is a common time for announcements), Colin told me there would be a few partnerships, and that one of them would go beyond Barney. I’ve got to give him credit for underselling on that score. :)

I asked Colin about Vertica’s stated figure of 328 customers by year-end 2010. He assured me that 250 or so were end-sale customers, with the rest being OEM sell-through. In all other ways I could think to ask about, Vertica’s stated customer count sounds clean — revenue recognized, not just for a paid POC, and so on.

By the way, Vertica has impressive market share among flashy internet companies, especially for an East Coast company — Twitter, Mozilla, a large fraction of the larger Facebook game vendors, and surely others that I’m forgetting as well.

Finally, let me point out that two other oddities go together, namely that:

Obviously — and I can also confirm both parts of this based on recent Vertica discussions — Vertica thinks it will soon have strong analytic platform technology, and doesn’t want to get mired in its “It’s Columnar!!!” marketing strategy of the past.

As for why that post ever went up in the first place — well, YOU try telling Mike Stonebraker not to say something that’s on his mind. :)

I do actually have quite a few details of product plans and customer success under NDA. I’ll think about what I can or can’t expose, and then perhaps write a more forward-looking HP/Vertica post.

Comments

10 Responses to “Now we know why Vertica has been so weirdly evasive”

  1. Conor O'Mahony on February 14th, 2011 12:03 pm

    Interesting developments. I wonder what impact this will end up having on the recently announced HP-Microsoft data warehouse appliances?

    Although, quite frankly those appliances looked remarkably similar to the existing HP Fast Track architectures (Microsoft had previously worked with multiple hardware vendors to build Fast Track architectures).

  2. Some quick notes on HP-Vertica | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on February 14th, 2011 12:20 pm

    [...] we know (at least in part) why Vertica went oddly silent for a [...]

  3. Curt Monash on February 14th, 2011 12:25 pm

    Based on the timing of the announcements, HP surely intends to pursue both strategies.

  4. Conor O'Mahony on February 14th, 2011 12:57 pm

    In my opinion, Sales teams don’t handle such situations well. Trust me, over the course of my career, I’ve had more experience than I’d like around such situations :-) Typically for reasons outside of my control.

    In my opinion, Sales teams 1) need clear and simple direction and 2) need to be unified. Otherwise, things can get messy very quickly and the customer is the one who directly experiences the mess.

    Who will the HP hardware guys partner with when new opportunities arise? Microsoft/Vertica/both? I’ll be very interested to see how HP positions this upon acquisition close, and more importantly what they start actually doing in the field…

  5. Philip Howard on February 14th, 2011 1:14 pm

    Hi Curt

    I had exactly the same problems with Vertica. What worries me is that HP has a track record of killing software products. Before it launched NeoView one of the questions it asked me was wheter I thought that product should be part of its hardware division! Basically, HP still has a box-shifting mindset. I also agree with Colin about salesforce clarity.

  6. George Chen on February 14th, 2011 1:30 pm

    I believe this is a good fit acquisition. HP and Vertica worked together for a some time. If HP let Vertica remain independent subsidiary will help to keep most of the talent.

  7. Curt Monash on February 14th, 2011 1:36 pm

    Conor,

    The quick answer is that when HP competes with Oracle/Sun, it will likely go with the product that has the best chance of being Oracle, which would in most cases be Vertica.

    If they’re selling to a Microsoft shop, however … um, do I really need to finish that sentence? :)

  8. Curt Monash on February 14th, 2011 1:40 pm

    Philip,

    HP’s strategy in Neoview and related areas was ghastly. It’s also been effectively disavowed, with a lot of people departing.

    I’m not sure there’s an HP power center that will subsume Vertica. Greenplum and Netezza, for example, have retained considerable autonomy under EMC and IBM respectively. They’re just having resources thrown at them.

    IBM/Netezza does have a positioning issue of old vs. new product lines, but that doesn’t contradict what I said. And by the way, as of last Wednesday I think the positioning issues are pretty solvable.

  9. La petite Revue de Presse du Décisionnel | www.LeGrandBI.com on February 20th, 2011 2:23 pm

    [...] Communicating with Vertica has been tricky recently. But HP is now announced to be buying Vertica, which pretty much forces me to comment about Vertica. Lire l’article [...]

  10. Columnar DBMS vendor customer metrics | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on June 20th, 2011 12:41 am

    [...] which is close to 600 now, about 40% or a little more direct. The difference between this and a 2010 year-end figure of 328 is not only new sales, but also slow reporting by OEMs.  One cool figure — a single OEM [...]

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