Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quick thoughts on EMC acquiring Greenplum

EMC announced today that they are acquiring Greenplum. Below are the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I heard about this deal.

  • Congratulations to the whole team at Greenplum. Every interaction I’ve had with a Greenplum employee has been very positive (especially Florian Waas, Luke Lonergan, and I guess Joe Hellerstein even though he’s just an advisor), and I’m really happy for all of them.
  • Aster Data’s launch a couple of years ago seems to have hurt Greenplum more than any other company. Aster Data and Greenplum have extremely similar products (a parallelization layer over PostgreSQL with MapReduce integration), though Greenplum has made more changes and innovations at the DBMS level than Aster Data has (most notably the column-storage option which I have written about in the past). However, Aster Data has reshaped their focus on deep, embedded analytics with extensive analytic libraries, which has met the market with more success than Greenplum’s focus on the enterprise data cloud (EDC) vision, since Greenplum’s product was not ready yet to compete with the likes of Teradata in the EDC space. Greenplum’s recent Chorus offering also seems to have also been a failure. Hence, I do not think the acquisition price was an extremely large number.
  • This deal seems like bad news for Greenplum’s direct competitor, ParAccel, which is extremely close to EMC and relies on EMC for their “enterprise-class” solution that includes high availability and disaster recovery. I believe EMC routinely helps win ParAccel some business.
  • People predicted that the DatAllegro acquisition by Microsoft would spur additional industry consolidation. That clearly did not happen, as two years passed and there were no non-trivial acquisitions in the data warehouse space. But then SAP squired Sybase (and Sybase IQ) and EMC acquired Greenplum, so I am sure people will be predicting that 2010 is the year for all the predicted consolidation. I have my doubts, since HP is the only major player that clearly needs to upgrade its “Big Data” offerings. But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was one more acquisition this year.
Other "Quick Thoughts" posts worth reading:


  1. As far as the price goes, I have no idea myself -- but keep in mind that GP has raised ~$61 million in VC money. So anything much less than $150-250 million would be hard for the VCs to willingly stomach, I think.

  2. Hey Daniel,

    What evidence have you found that Aster's "analytics" strategy has had more success in the market than Greenplum's "EDC" strategy? The latest news I've heard out of Aster is that their head of sales had left and they'd laid off ten folks in sales and marketing.

    In my previous role at Facebook and after talking to hundreds of customers and potential customers at Cloudera, I rarely run into enterprises with a need for more complex analytics. Instead, almost all of them have a data management problem, with vendors pushing them towards "complex analytics" when they can't even get all of their data into a single data store for simple aggregation.

    I actually thought Greenplum's strategy was pretty solid, modulo the use of "cloud" in the name (of course, who am I to talk on that front, given our company name?). I'm happy for Scott, Luke, and folks, and curious to see how EMC fits Greenplum into their larger data management strategy.


  3. Hi Jeff,

    First of all, it is an honor to have a comment from you on this blog :)

    As far as my statements about Aster, I think you might know that in order to figure out what direction to take HadoopDB, I've been actively talking to people within enterprises considering or already deploying Hadoop for data analysis. In these conversations, Aster has come up quite frequently, but Greenplum never came up unless I was the one to bring them up. Hence, I got the sense that Aster's new focus has been more successful than Greenplum's. But this is only a sense that I have, based on the people I have talked to --- nothing more. And most of the people I've been talking to are East Coast people, so there could be a sample bias.

    I admit that as an academic, I might be jumping the gun a little on complex analytics --- perhaps you are right and the market is not ready. But I strongly believe the market demand will be there soon if it is not already there. And I think Aster is going down the right road.

  4. Hey Daniel,

    This acquisition shows that interest in big data certainly is heating up! And we at Aster are happy for the folks at Greenplum.

    Jeff is absolutely correct that many enterprises, "can't even get all their data into a single data store." Providing such a solution to the enterprise is important, but stopping there misses the real value that can be derived from big data. Once we show a company that it is easy to get them past the "store it all" hurdle with Aster, we love to ask them, "So, what do you really want to know?" Although running simple reporting queries is a request we do hear, our experience is that most enterprises are also teeming with ideas for advanced analytics that they assumed could not be tackled, something I'm sure you have also found in your discussions. Right now we're having significant traction with customers that want to do more than just the simple reports and I am thrilled to be building an enterprise quality platform that helps answer those advanced analytical questions.

    I'm glad that you share Aster's vision of the need for advanced analytics and I don't think you are jumping the gun at all. It is an exciting and growing market and I look forward to seeing where you take HadoopDB in this regard.


  5. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for the reference in your post. And congrats for having build one of the most influential data management blogs in such a short time - something that happened for a good reason, I think.

    As John mentioned, there are thousands of enterprises out there that are thirsty to do more with their data. You're 100% right on your insightful comments that the market is moving towards deeper, more complex analytics. Just the frequency of terms like "MapReduce" & "in-database analytics" in the blogosphere is by itself very telling!

    I just wanted to address Jeff's point on our business and make clear that (a) our business management team is very strong, very seasoned and solid (you can see the profiles here http://www.asterdata.com/about/management.php); (b) our business is doing better than ever before and we are growing exponentially year over year; (c) after the realignment that we did our headcount isn't overall reduced and we're currently hiring a number of people in different positions (as you can see here http://www.asterdata.com/about/careers.php).

    Thanks again for a great blog and great insights.

    Tasso Argyros

  6. I think you might know that in order to figure out what direction to take HadoopDB, I've been actively talking to people within enterprises considering or already deploying Hadoop for data analysis. http://lukelonergan.net/