November 21, 2011

Some big-vendor execution questions, and why they matter

When I drafted a list of key analytics-sector issues in honor of look-ahead season, the first item was “execution of various big vendors’ ambitious initiatives”. By “execute” I mean mainly:

Vendors mentioned here are Oracle, SAP, HP, and IBM. Anybody smaller got left out due to the length of this post. Among the bigger omissions were:

A (lingering) issue for SAP and Oracle alike

As I noted in January of this year, integration of business intelligence into operational apps is making very slow progress. Even so, it’s a huge part of the apparent strategy at SAP and Oracle alike, as well it should be. Much of the benefit from automating routine desk work has already happened. The areas ripest for exploitation are the ones where analytics are part of the equation.

Given the lack of tangible progress, why do I think this is a genuine area of Oracle and SAP emphasis? Three reasons of many are:

*As opposed to IT concerns — integration, administration, TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), etc.

After so many years of disappointment, I’m not going to forecast 2012 as a pivotal year for the integration of business intelligence into operational applications. But if one of SAP or Oracle ever does get a significant BI/operational app integration advantage over the other, it could be a major competitive advantage in those application market segments that are still up for grabs. It also is an opportunity for both vendors to gain BI market share in their respective application customer bases.

A more urgent issue for SAP

SAP has put huge amounts of credibility on the line for HANA, the integration of two different and not particularly mature in-memory database technologies. So far, it is difficult to find evidence that HANA is robust enough for widespread adoption. Whether or not SAP can fix that is a huge open question, which could have significant impact on the course of several technology areas: applications, business intelligence, in-memory DBMS, and maybe even hardware.

Based on current information, which is admittedly partial, I’m a short-term pessimist on HANA. Longer-term, I’m on record as saying that traditional databases will eventually wind up in RAM. SAP will surely get that technology right some day, whether or not the way it does so has anything to do with present-day HANA code.

Four more issues for Oracle

Oracle’s ambitions are near-endless, and so also therefore is its list of execution challenges. Four in the analytics area that I find particularly interesting are:

Three issues for IBM

Like Oracle, IBM is a huge company with many ambitions and hence many execution challenges. The biggest of those is surely: How effective can IBM be at selling outside its existing customer base? I don’t hear as much competitively about IBM DataStage, IBM SPSS or now IBM Netezza as I did when their vendors were independent companies. Even Cognos may not be much of an exception to the rule, although it has its own large customer base outside of IBM’s traditional one. (To lesser extents , the same is of course true of Netezza and numerous other IBM acquisitions.)

Another general issue for IBM is substantively integrating its various product lines, at least to the extent that makes sense. DB2/Netezza integration sounds good, but even that is a matter more of product marketing (the admirable part of that discipline) more than of actual technology. Other integrations (e.g. Cognos/DB2 in various bundles) have tended toward the dubious side.*

*I’m still waiting for IBM to get back to me with examples of how Cognos/DB2 joint tuning amounts to anything. It’s been more than a year, so I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath.

In a somewhat narrower vein, I wonder: Will IBM be able to gain traction for InfoSphere Streams? And if so, when and where will the traction be?

Will HP screw up Vertica?

Vertica has a very attractive product offering. It’s perhaps the most scalable analytic DBMS outside of Teradata, running on the hardware of your reasonable choice.  It’s also the one I recommend most often to clients in the 1-50 terabyte range.

So far HP doesn’t seem to have done much to leadfoot Vertica. (About all I’ve heard from competitors is that Vertica seems to have faded somewhat in the financial services market, and there could be multiple explanations if that is indeed true.) But if HP Vertica does somehow manage to botch things, opportunities will open up for a range of columnar analytic DBMS competitors.

Comments

2 Responses to “Some big-vendor execution questions, and why they matter”

  1. Analytic trends in 2012: Q&A : DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on November 21st, 2011 6:02 am

    [...] edited form of an actual interview. Two other posts cover analytic trends to watch (planned) and analytic vendor execution challenges to watch (already [...]

  2. Dave Duggal on November 22nd, 2011 7:45 am

    “After so many years of disappointment, I’m not going to forecast 2012 as a pivotal year for the integration of business intelligence into operational applications. But if one of SAP or Oracle ever does get a significant BI/operational app integration advantage over the other, it could be a major competitive advantage…”

    So true! Bridging analytical with operational for real-time feedback loop is the holy grail – and we’ve done it! I’ll be happy to show you sometime.

Leave a Reply




Feed: DBMS (database management system), DW (data warehousing), BI (business intelligence), and analytics technology Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:

Login

Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.