April 5, 2011

Comments on EMC Greenplum

I am annoyed with my former friends at Greenplum, who took umbrage at a brief sentence I wrote in October, namely “eBay has thrown out Greenplum“.  Their reaction included:

The last one really hurt, because in trusting them, I put in quite a bit of effort, and discussed their promise with quite a few other people.

Yes, that five-word sentence really seems to have been the problem. I’ve heard that from more than one source.

I think the rest is overwrought too, and not just because I regret the loss of revenue, or of what seemed to be a warm, friendly, hug-laden, and sushi-intensive relationship with Scott Yara and some other folks. At various times, on the subject of its eBay installation:

Now the same Scott Yara who hovered over me for months in marketing micromanagement before I broke the news of the Greenplum and Teradata eBay installations — he could do that because the whole discussion started out under NDA — doesn’t answer my email. Evidently, Greenplum thinks it’s OK to repeatedly be misleading, but doesn’t think it’s OK if my nuance is one they disagree with.

The most entertaining example I recall of Greenplum BS was when CTO Luke Lonergan told 50+ academics at the 2009 XLDB that Greenplum had 10 customers with half a petabyte each of data. I followed him out of the room and said “10 customers — half a petabyte each — I presume that’s for sufficiently small values of ‘one half’?” We eventually settled on a value of “one half” in the 0.2 range — which is actually a pretty impressive claim in itself.

Be all that as it may, EMC Greenplum has a couple of press releases out on which I’ve been asked to comment. One is a deal with SAS, less impressive than SAS’ deals with Teradata and Aster Data in that it offers no actual in-database modeling. Yes, it sounds like modeling on the same nodes where the data sits, but it sounds less desirable than true in-database modeling in that:

Also, EMC Greenplum expanded its line of appliances, to include one that seems optimized for price-per-terabyte and one with solid-state drives. So far, that’s very standard stuff. There’s also a new data loading appliance, which seems to catch up with the Aster Data’s 2008 strategy of having separate nodes for bulk loading.

Ironically, when Aster moved away from a total reliance on that strategy, it was becoming more Greenplum-like. As is so often the case, it seems that different vendors’ feature sets are converging.

Meanwhile, the last I heard about Greenplum’s previously very strategic Chorus effort is that it’s being revamped. I don’t get the impression it’s nearly as central to Greenplum’s strategy as it used to be.


8 Responses to “Comments on EMC Greenplum”

  1. Seth Grimes on April 5th, 2011 8:14 pm

    I believe that any analyst worth his/her salt is persona-non-grata to some vendor at any given time. Signs are that I have been, myself, to one of the analytics leaders, dating back a couple of years, and you and I were both disfavored by the ancien regime at ParAccel for a while.

  2. Curt Monash on April 5th, 2011 8:41 pm

    When I was a stock analyst at PaineWebber:

    I was physically removed from the Plaza Hotel by security at a Cullinet event. Cullinet was arguably the biggest company I followed (until I picked up EDS and that crowd). I was also voted #1 software/services stock analyst once.

    DEC, aka Digital, the largest company Steve Smith followed, wouldn’t talk to him for a while. He was voted #1 minicomputer analyst, I think more than more than once.

    AT&T wouldn’t talk to telecom analyst Jack Grubman. He made #1 analyst legitimately, before corruption set in.

    Intel wouldn’t talk to Mike Gumport. He was #3 or so among semiconductor analysts.

    IBM named Jon Fram as a co-defendant in a $7.5 billion lawsuit. He never won much of anything ;), at least in the stock analyst business.

    Our boss, Bob Cornell, who was the #1 electrical equipment industry analyst 10 years running, wasn’t being talked to by GE.

    So yeah — I’ve been familiar with the syndrome for a long time. 🙂

  3. Ajay Ohri on April 5th, 2011 10:17 pm

    “You can only get great performance if the amount of data modeled is small enough to fit into RAM.”

    If this is true, then EMC Greenplum SAS combo is useless for big data, unless they can go upto a terabyte of RAM (which would be awesome).

    The story you told of employees taking umbrage is quite familiar in tech blog circles- and is also a case of agency conflict. The ego of managers leads them into paths which are detrimental to the investors- spoiling analyst relations based on small stuff is one such case. Telling lies to the
    media in the hope of a temp branding boost to help with deals, is a large part of it.

  4. Unpacking the EMC Greenplum Q1 sales disaster rumors | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on April 16th, 2011 2:21 pm

    […] the past I might have called Greenplum for clarification, but they’re not knocking themselves out to inform me these days, nor to inspire me with confidence in what they […]

  5. josephmartins on April 16th, 2011 3:56 pm

    Eh, Curt, in the past several years we’ve lost high 5-figure deals on closing day and we’ve gone 2-3 yrs on and off the blacklist with a few very large vendors because of one thing or another we’ve said about them.

    No big deal really. Who needs that kind of aggravation? More than 700 vendors in storage alone and thousands more in information management. There are plenty of opportunities out there that don’t involve people who aren’t interested in honest objective assessments.

    As we’ve said for years on our web site “If you need a friend, buy a dog.” We’re not in this line of work to be the CxO’s pal or “partner”. If they can’t take the heat, they know how to find the door.

  6. No, companies are NOT entitled to manage news about themselves | Strategic Messaging on July 1st, 2011 4:32 pm

    […] EMC Greenplum. I blindsided them on a story; they retaliated for the story by, among other things, screwing me over business-wise. Why did I blindside them in the first place? Because I believed that if I didn’t, […]

  7. Marketing to current and future employees | Strategic Messaging on June 3rd, 2012 8:32 am

    […] how external coverage affects their engineers. That, I was told, is what lay at the heart of my Greenplum debacle. More positively, it’s sometimes why companies go out of their way to brief me, even in […]

  8. Greenplum HAWQ | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on February 25th, 2013 4:44 pm

    […] My former friends at Greenplum no longer talk to me, so in particular I wasn’t briefed on Pivotal HD and Greenplum HAWQ. Pivotal HD seems to be yet another Hadoop distribution, with the idea that you use Greenplum’s management tools. Greenplum HAWQ seems to be Greenplum tied to HDFS. […]

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