Greenplum update

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Content Copyright © 2012 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The IM Blog

It’s now a couple of years since EMC acquired Greenplum. I have to say that when the acquisition was first announced I was concerned that EMC might turn out to be too much like HP and that Greenplum might disappear down a dark hole. I’m glad to say that this hasn’t happened and perhaps the most obvious sign of this fact is that Greenplum operates within its own division of EMC. This, it seems to me, is one of the best indicators of potential success for acquisitions. IBM is pretty good at absorbing acquired companies but most vendors aren’t. Of course, it helps that there is no competing technology at EMC.

There are a number of things that Greenplum is doing that I like. For example, it has formed a close partnership with SAS (pretty much on the same footing as with Teradata) and it has recognised that the traditional EDW market is complex and has extended lead times, so it is focused more on line-of-business and big data sales opportunities. In this latter context Greenplum was, of course, one of the first companies in the traditional warehousing/mart space to adopt MapReduce and it actually offers two Hadoop options, one based on Apache and the other on MapR. The latter provides more advanced capabilities but the former is more lightweight for those dabbling with Hadoop for the first time.

Alongside its physical offerings Greenplum also has a Data Science Team that will go into client accounts and discover/demonstrate how business value can be derived from big data in a way that is specific to the customer in question.  I don’t know of any competitors offering quite this same capability and, in some ways, this is significantly more useful that simply performing a proof of concept.

One thing that has consistently confused me about Greenplum is its attitude to open source. When the company first came to market this was a major focus but then it got de-emphasised if not actually dropped before re-emerging again. I am therefore pleased that the company has finally decided to clarify its position, which is to reinforce its support for open source. In particular, at the recent Strata conference the company announced that it was open sourcing its Chorus graphical user interface.

One question that hasn’t been answered is with respect to Gemfire. Gemfire is an in-memory, distributed data management platform that was originally developed by GemStone (of object oriented database fame) which was acquired by Spring before that company in turn was bought by VMware (a subsidiary of EMC). Where Gemfire is important within a data warehousing environment is that, while it isn’t actually a complex event processing product it does offer comparable capabilities, at least for some environments. In other words, within the context of the “velocity” dimension of big data it would make sense for the two to be marketed in conjunction. However, Gemfire is currently with the VMWare division. Quite how EMC squares this circle remains to be seen.

Overall Greenplum seems to be in pretty good shape.