My quick reaction to the Actian/ParAccel deal was negative. A few challenges to my views then emerged. They didn’t really change my mind.
Amazon did a deal with ParAccel that amounted to:
- Amazon got a very cheap license to a limited subset of ParAccel’s product …
- … so that it could launch a service called Amazon Redshift.
- Amazon also invested in ParAccel.
Some argue that this is great for ParAccel’s future prospects. I’m not convinced.
No doubt there are and will be Redshift users, evidently including Infor. But so far as I can tell, Redshift uses very standard SQL, so it doesn’t seed a ParAccel market in terms of developer habits. The administration/operation story is similar. So outside of general validation/bragging rights, Redshift is not a big deal for ParAccel.
OEMs and bragging rights
It’s not just Amazon and Infor; there’s also a MicroStrategy deal to OEM ParAccel — I think it’s the real ParAccel software in that case — for a particular service, MicroStrategy Wisdom. But unless I’m terribly mistaken, HP Vertica, Sybase IQ and even Infobright each have a lot more OEMs than ParAccel, just as they have a lot more customers than ParAccel overall.
This OEM success is a great validation for the idea of columnar analytic RDBMS in general, but I don’t see where it’s an advantage for ParAccel vs. the columnar leaders.
As I admitted in the comment thread to my first Actian/ParAccel post, I’m confused about what kind of concurrent usage ParAccel can really support. The data I have, e.g. in the link immediately above, is not conclusive. Googling suggests that VectorWise was at one user per core a couple of years ago, supportive of my hypothesis that it doesn’t have some big concurrency edge on ParAccel. But to repeat — I don’t really know.
DBMS acquisitions in the past
My history blog on DBMS acquisitions yielded more favorable examples than I was expecting. (Of course, I omitted a lot of small and boring failures.) And DBMS conglomerates are the rule more than the exception, with IBM, Sybase, Teradata and Oracle all adopting acquisition-aided multi-DBMS strategies, at least to some extent.
That said, Sybase is the main example of a vendor of a slow-growth DBMS (Adaptive Server Enterprise) doing well with a faster-growing one (Sybase IQ). Perhaps not coincidentally, Actian’s latest management team draws significantly on Sybase. So yes; ParAccel is now owned by a company run by guys who know something about selling columnar DBMS.
But the whole thing would be more convincing if Ingres had shown more life under Actian’s ownership, or indeed at any point in the past 20 years. My bottom line is that Actian was floundering badly in the DBMS market 1 1/2 years ago, and not a lot of favorable news has emerged in the interim — except, quite arguably, for the management changes and acquisitions themselves.