August 18, 2011

HP/Autonomy sound bites

HP has announced that:

On a high level, this means:

My coverage of Autonomy isn’t exactly current, but I don’t know of anything that contradicts long-time competitor* Dave Kellogg’s skeptical view of Autonomy. Autonomy is a collection of businesses involved in the management, search, and retrieval of poly-structured data, in some cases with strong market share, but even so not necessarily with the strongest of reputations for technology or technology momentum. Autonomy started from a text search engine and a Bayesian search algorithm on top of that, which did a decent job for many customers. But if there’s been much in the way of impressive enhancement over the past 8-10 years, I’ve missed the news.

*Dave, of course, was CEO of MarkLogic.

Questions obviously arise about how the Autonomy acquisition relates to other HP businesses. My early thoughts include: 


10 Responses to “HP/Autonomy sound bites”

  1. Witalij on August 19th, 2011 2:37 am

    One comment: HP is not pulling back from WebOS, but from webOS *devices* – which is different.

  2. Curt Monash on August 19th, 2011 5:31 am

    HP is clearly abandoning WebOS-based devices, and is exploring strategic options for WebOS itself, including near-certain staff cuts at a minimum, if I read the reporting correctly. That counts as “pulling back” in my book.

  3. Charlie Hull on August 19th, 2011 6:02 am

    I agree with you about Autonomy’s technical foundation – and there are other Bayesian search technologies out there, such as the open source Xapian (, also developed in Cambridge to succeed Muscat, which appeared at almost the same time as Autonomy’s IDOL.

  4. Seth Grimes on August 19th, 2011 9:52 am

    Curt, I don’t see that Attensity offers anything significant technically that Autonomy doesn’t have in spades. Sure, the approaches to text analysis are different, but that difference doesn’t really affect the business-worthiness of either company’s solutions, and I’d be surprised if there’s enough money involved in joint Attensity-Vertica deals to make that alliance a selling point.

    Myself, I see HP’s next acquisitions as complementary BI and SOA players. Think TIBCO. I could see them interested in others ranging in size from SAS to Actuate.


  5. Curt Monash on August 19th, 2011 10:02 am


    I don’t see what Autonomy has as being useful inputs to the rest of the analytic stack. Have I overlooked one or more of its many acquisitions?

  6. Ian Hersey on August 19th, 2011 6:13 pm

    Seth, really? We couldn’t be more different from and better than Autonomy when it comes to analyzing text beyond probabilistic search results ranking and routing. They don’t even make the short list of vendors considered in text analytics or social media monitoring/analysis opportunities, nor do they show up in the government intelligence landscape (where Verity had historically been strong, at least as a search engine).

    And who actually OEMs Autonomy’s search anymore? An OEM rep of theirs I talked to recently said his business was mostly the Keyview filters – not exactly an exciting business for someone the size of HP.


  7. Leon Katsnelson on August 23rd, 2011 6:04 pm

    From pure money point of view, I don’t see how this would not be mission impossible for HP to pull off. I think what Apotheker and company are saying is that they want to make HP in to an enterprise software company because that is where the margins are best. That sounds great, but Vertica + Autonomy can’t possibly be the base they would buil the business from? At least not large enough a business to compensate for what HP is giving up in the PC space.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  8. Curt Monash on August 23rd, 2011 6:35 pm

    HP has an enterprise software business already, so that part is in their favor. It’s not as if Autonomy and Vertica are the only pieces.

    However, they’ve made it clear, in statements and with those two acquisitions, that they want to get stronger in data/information management.

  9. Anoop Dwivedi on August 30th, 2011 10:54 pm

    Curt, I think outside of a limited market (EU), we dont really hear much about autonomy. I still believe that Attensity has a better brand name.

    Vertica is pretty much a datamart appliance. I seriously doubt that they could scale to EDW.

    regarding HP’s current software business, it is primarly in infrastructure management or I should say datacenter management. Leo would have make some expensive acquisitions to get into the Enterprise applications business. I think something like Infor could get them into ERP/CRM/Logistics, but then they would become the competitors to SAP which could be tricky.

  10. Curt Monash on August 31st, 2011 12:34 am


    You might want to look again at some of my posts on Vertica. I agree that their customers don’t have the craziest of schemas right now, but check out Vertica’s (credible IMO) claims regarding number of petabyte-scale customers or levels of concurrency achieved.

    And the “appliance” label is a bit odd.

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