Blog: Merv Adrian Hello and welcome to my BeyeNETWORK blog! I will use this blog to share my thoughts and observations on new analytic business applications and data management : vendor briefings, case studies, events and other activities that stimulate ideas will be the source. I believe the emergence of this new class of application, and new emerging data management tools, herald a next step in the maturity of information technology, and I'm excited to be present for its emergence. I hope my blog entries will stimulate ideas that will serve both the vendors creating these new solutions and the companies that will improve their business prospects as a result of applying them. Please share your thoughts and input on the topics. Copyright 2011 Sat, 08 Jan 2011 10:42:00 -0700 Why I'm Going to Gartner This is a personal note about a professional decision. You might not be interested. If you are, read on. I'll try to be brief.

I've had a very fulfilling two years as an independent analyst, succeeding beyond my expectations. I established (or continued) a respected brand, gathered several thousand twitter followers, drew 80,000 blog views in 18 months, wrote a number of well-regarded papers, keynoted events, conducted webinars and interviews, and was consulted by the largest companies in our industry as well as emerging, exciting smaller ones. I collaborated with other independents and made new friends everywhere. Financially, I had the two best years of my career. Valley View Ventures, my business agent, has made it smooth and painless on every side, and Fred Abbott is a great friend, mentor and business partner.

Whew. All that said, it surprises a lot of my friends and colleagues that I have decided to accept a position as a Vice President in Research for Gartner effective January 3, 2011. So: Why? Because for the next few years it will be the best seat in the house for the most dramatic changes that our business has seen in decades.

]]> Sat, 08 Jan 2011 10:42:00 -0700
Make Mine Membase - Cloudera Convenes Colleagues to Crunch Content Over the past two years, Cloudera has demonstrated the power of surrounding emerging open source software with support services, expertise and its own IP. The firm has  racked up over 30 customers since its founding in late 2008, and emerged as the leading source of Apache Hadoop. Cloudera's recent C round of financing brought its funding to $36 million, and it has been investing aggressively, with 45 employees, a very visible voice on the Big Data circuit and a stellar, experienced leadership team. It evangelizes through training, thought leadership, and increasingly through a growing sales and marketing team.

One indicator of Cloudera's precocity has been its prioritization of key alliances - higher than many firms its size - and that strategy is likely to have a big payoff if the partnerships are well executed and bring the marketplace momentum and the value they promise to fruition. Two key recent announcements involved Membase and Informatica. I've discussed the latter in another post - here I'll talk about why the Membase deal makes so much sense.

]]> Thu, 23 Dec 2010 10:47:39 -0700
Cloudera-Informatica Deal Opens Broader Horizons for Both Cloudera's continuing focus on the implications of explosive data growth has led it to another key partnership, this time with Informatica.
Connecting to the dominant player in data integration and data quality
expands the opportunity for Cloudera dramatically; it enables the de facto commercial Hadoop leader to find new ways to empower the "silent majority" of data. The majority of data is outside;
not just outside enterprise data warehouses, but outside RDBMS
instances entirely. Why? Because it doesn't need all the management
features database management software provides - it doesn't get updated
regularly, for example. In fact, it may not be used very often at all,
though it does need to be persisted for a variety of reasons. I recently
mentioned Cloudera's success of late; it's going to be challenged by some big players in 2011, notably IBM, whose recent focus on Hadoop
has been remarkably nimble. So these deals matter. A lot. The Data
Management function is being refactored before our eyes; both these
vendors will play in its future.


]]> Tue, 21 Dec 2010 09:54:18 -0700
Microsoft Leaps Late, Lags with SQL Server PDW Microsoft chose a user group meeting, Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), for the rollout of its long-awaited, and late, SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse
(note, yet again, how foolish it is for vendors to trap themselves with
dates in product names.) PDW is late to market; there are other MPP
DBMS players there already, and Microsoft is behind in functionality
compared to some of them. Some of the most eagerly--awaited features are
evidently not slated for the first release. It's also far behind its
originally planned ship date following the acquisition of DatAllegro in


]]> Wed, 15 Dec 2010 13:20:37 -0700
IBM's IOD Showcases DB2, Informix, InfoSphere. Now, About Marketing.... It was hard to decide where to look first in Las Vegas this year at
IBM's flagship information management event. Coming as it did on the
heels of a massive, sprawling Oracle Open World, it was also
overwhelming, but distinguished itself immediately by its focus. Whereas
Oracle has smashed together hardware systems, apps, middleware, java
and development, systems management and database into a bewildering
multi-site show, IBM continues to run separate events for Websphere,
Rational, Tivoli, and Lotus. No single IBM event trumpets "we're the
biggest," and they don't take over the towns they're in; the content
seems a bit more manageable. And as an attendee who hopes to get a broad
view, I'm happy with that. However, as I'll discuss below, Oracle is
winning the messaging war nonetheless.


]]> Tue, 23 Nov 2010 09:00:59 -0700
Database Benchmark Leadership - A Marathon, Not A Sprint Yes, I know - not everyone believes database benchmarks are useful. My
position is that there is value in benchmarks' role in helping engineers
wring out bottlenecks, bugs and performance impediments in their
products. Berni Schiefer, Technical Executive , Information Management
Performance and Benchmarks for DB2, MDM and SolidDB, recently told me
that "every time we run [TPC-C] we are astonished at how effectively it
hammers every element of the system. We always find bugs, room for
tuning. It's the nastiest, most punishing combination there is."


]]> Mon, 11 Oct 2010 09:52:39 -0700
IBM Acquires Netezza - ADBMS Consolidation Heats Up IBM's bid to acquire Netezza
makes it official; the insurgents are at the gates. A pioneering and
leading ADBMS player, Netezza is in play for approximately $1.7 billion, better than 6 times its revenue run rate.
When it entered the market in 2001, it catalyzed an economic and
architectural shift with an appliance form factor at a dramatically
different price point. Titans like Teradata and Oracle (and yes, IBM)
found themselves outmaneuvered as Netezza mounted a steadily improving
business, adding dozens of new names every quarter, continuing to
validate its market positioning as a dedicated analytic appliance. It's
no longer alone there; some analytic appliance play is now in the
portfolio of most sizable vendors serious about the market.


]]> Fri, 01 Oct 2010 11:12:31 -0700
Aster Data Adds Columnar Storage, Now a Hybrid Multistore Aster Data, with a new CEO and a fresh $30M round of funding, has announced its new version, nCluster 4.6, which now
includes a column data store, staking a claim as the first ADBMS to
combine SQL and MapReduce on a hybrid row and column MPP system. While
its R&D has hitherto been focused on enabling advanced in-database
analytic processing in its flagship "Data-Analytics Server, " Aster has
clearly had other irons in the fire. CTO Tasso Argyros tells me that the
new column store is entirely new, written from scratch to ensure that
Aster's SQL-MR is a universal programming layer atop storage, and that
its 1000+ MapReduce-ready analytic functions (and UDFs) will run on both
row- and column-based data.


]]> Fri, 24 Sep 2010 09:56:15 -0700
Kalido "Cascades" Continue Cadence on Designed DW Development Kalido's
ongoing evangelization of automation for governed, designed data
warehouses has delivered fine results for the small, Massachusetts-based
firm. In a recent conversation, the team shared recent results: a
profitable fiscal year, with a Q4 that was up 35% and momentum that
carried into the traditionally slow Q1 with 25% year over year growth.
Since I last discussed
Kalido at the time of its virtual conference a year ago, new name sales
in the US and Europe as well as add-on business in existing accounts
are a healthy sign . New partnerships, new data source support,  and a
new release all are likely to sustain and even increase the momentum in
the  autumn and winter selling seasons.


]]> Fri, 17 Sep 2010 18:36:09 -0700
Wrapping Up TDWI - Agile? You Bet. And You Should. I've posted already about TDWI's San Diego event, but I still haven't exhausted the thoughts I wanted to share. That's a measure of just how important and successful I think the show was. Three things jumped out at me:

  • The audience is back, and it's ready to spend. The event was buzzing; I was told by organizers that the numbers significantly exceeded expectations. That was easy to see; speeches, booths, and hallways were packed. Vendors told me booth traffic was great, and that visitors (although typically not budget holders) were in or preparing for projects and product acquisitions.
  • The hunger for content continues. In my session and in others, I saw show-of-hands responses to questions like "how many of you have been here before?" "How many of you have built this kind of system?" "How many of you have been trained on [pick a DW-related topic]?"  The responses made it clear that like other TDWI events I've been to, this one was packed with people who were new or intermediate users with training in mind. TDWI's basic training mission has never been healthier.
  • Agile matters. A lot. My first post on the event was put up rather quickly and as the event progressed, I heard the theme flesh out well, with real stories from users who applied the techniques to their projects. My initial impression that we might be looking at another buzzword poorly applied was wrong. Agile's real, and TDWI's coverage and guidance is rich and well worth investigating. The vendors? Well, they're doing what they always do. Caveat emptor. I repeat: it's not an adjective.  Learn what it means and apply it. You can't buy it.

The last point above drives a few more thoughts about Wayne Eckerson's keynote and my comments on it. Wayne had little time to work with, and left the nuance and details of Agile to the agenda speakers who followed. As chairperson, he made the right decision, an unselfish one. Having chaired conferences of my own in my Giga and Forrester days, I applaud his willingness to cut his own time to literally less than a half hour to let his speakers shine.  I was hasty in my comments about his choices - he was clear on the topics he would have covered if he had more time, and subsequent diligence on my part (and his gentle prodding and pointers to prior work TDWI had done on the topic) reveals more detailed examination and training of Agile than I knew was in place.

As I said earlier, the speech itself was a good one, well delivered. And I withdraw my content-based "unsatisfied" comment, Wayne built a conference to tell the Agile story, and didn't attempt to cram it into too little time in his own speech. Instead he delivered some tips to a crowd that hopefully understood how surprisingly radical some of them were. As I've said elsewhere, we who live in the future sometimes forget what's going on in the present - TDWI's strong connection to current user data keeps it grounded, and Wayne's tips captured what leading organizations are doing today - some of which are different in surprising ways from past practice.

TDWI gave Agile credit, and covered it well. BI developers should learn what it can do for them and use if as a bridge to their colleagues in other programming groups - it has the potential to be a shared set of assumptions, processes and practices that bridge what often are separate organizations.

]]> Mon, 30 Aug 2010 09:04:01 -0700
More TDWI Notes - ParAccel Rolling On, HP Stalled, Vertica Leading Insurgents On my second day at TDWI, I was in meetings all day - events like this
are a great opportunity for analysts to catch up with many of the
companies they follow at one time, and this particular one was packed
with sponsors. Congrats to the folks who sell sponsorships - they had a
packed exhibit hall, and a lot of very interested attendees. I got a
chance to chat at a few booths (all buzzing), ask a few attendees some
real-world questions (and was asked some surprising ones myself), and
get a sense of the workload in the trenches (heavy and growing.)


]]> Sun, 22 Aug 2010 20:38:28 -0700
White Paper Sponsorship and Labeling My friend Curt Monash has taken Oracle to task for the way it labels its web pages that contain download links for analyst reports, and I took some collateral damage in the process. It was embarrassing to me, but an important discussion, and I thought I ought to share some ideas about the whole issue. For example, I found that other vendor sites don't always label white papers as sponsored either.

Some of my pieces are published by vendors who simply buy the rights to make available things I've posted here or elsewhere. Those are not "sponsored"; no discussion about what I will or will not say has taken place in advance, and there is no promise by me to write, or to pay by them. Other pieces are specifically commissioned from me, under editorial agreements I've described elsewhere. In brief, though - vendors get to check facts, but not dictate what I say. And they don't buy comparisons, favorable or otherwise, to competitors - I don't accept that kind of work for publication, at any price.


]]> Fri, 13 Aug 2010 10:52:25 -0700
Decoding BI Market Share Numbers - Play Sudoku With Analysts In a recent post
I discussed Oracle's market share in BI, based on a press-published
chart taken from IDC data - showing Oracle coming in second. As often
happens in such discussions, I got quite a few direct emails and twitter
messages - some in no uncertain terms - about why the particular metric
I chose was not sufficiently nuanced or representative of the true
picture. I freely admit: that's true. In general, market observers know
Oracle is not typically placed second overall - but the picture is more
complex than a single ranking. My point was, and is, that it's too easy
to slip into a "who's on top" mentality that obscures true market
dynamics. In this post, I'll dig a bit deeper, and describe what
different approaches or categorizations show us - and what they don't.
Finally I'll talk about how much this matters - and to whom.


]]> Wed, 04 Aug 2010 08:13:59 -0700
For GoodData, SaaS Changes The Channel Model Too Last time I mentioned GoodData, it was in passing, as I discussed YouCalc
and other SaaS BI players. In the ensuing year, many other toes have
been dipped into the water. I sat down with GoodData CEO and founder
Roman Stanek and Marketing VP Sam Boonin this week to catch up on how
it's all going, and from where they sit, the news seems to look pretty
good. With 40 employees, 25 customers since last November, and a funding
round from the likes of Marc Andreesen and Tim O'Reilly, GoodData seems
to be off to a GoodStart. And now it has a new initiative: free
analytics for other SaaS players to expand its presence.


]]> Thu, 29 Jul 2010 08:28:53 -0700
You Know You Have Big Data When...(Humor) One of the more philosophical questions analysts like to ask is "What is Big Data?" It's relative - it begs the question, "what's big?" And that is a constantly moving number, and always assessed by comparison to the ridiculous amounts some companies work with. But Big Data as a concept in IT parlance today tends to mean something fairly specific, not just about size but also about composition and the nature of the processing. So I considered a serious attempt at a fairly rigorous discussion about the nature of the workload, structure of the data and the kinds of analytics that comprise what people think of as Big Data....and then I thought of Steve Martin, who would have considered this carefully and then looked into the camera and said "Naaaahh." So I determined to emulate him and have a bit of fun instead, by crowdsourcing some help completing the sentence "You know you have Big Data when..." Here's what some Twitter folks said. Some are funny, some more serious ...

You know you have Big Data when....

... you get a call from the utility company asking you not to run 'that brownout query' again. (@aristippus303 at Datawatch)

... your IT spends more time purchasing storage capacity than making sure the business has the data they need - @judyiko (Informatica)

.,. EMC name a new product after you (@aristippus303 at Datawatch)

...  it piles up so high that it disappears into the clouds (@evertlammerts - I assume pun was intended?)

...  the SAN undergoes gravitational collapse and you get cited by OSHA for an unlicensed singularity. (@datamartist)

...  a query is long enough to require a couple of DBA generations to see it returning first data. (@Stray_Cat)

...  your datacenter manager divides time between installing a new NAS in the kitchen and googling for vacant aircraft hangars. (@alanjharrison)

And a few of mine:

...  you conduct an audit, including external files, and add more in to the databases than you take out.

...  you think Flomax is a new ETL product.

...  the first item on your bucket list is "finish data model."

...  you've never gotten to the "Reduce" part.

...  your Dad won't let you have the keys to the table you want to join to because he's still doing the schema update he started on your birthday. No, your BIRTH day.

OK - that's way more than enough. Don't you have a schema to update? Get back to work. If you get bored, send me some more.

]]> Mon, 26 Jul 2010 14:39:18 -0700