EMC to buy Greenplum for “big data” private clouds

July 6, 2010 – EMC announced today that it plans to acquire Greenplum for an undisclosed amount of cash. The deal is expected to close by September.

For the news story, see “EMC acquires data warehousing vendor Greenplum.”

I had never heard of Greenplum, but after a quick look at their site I gleaned that the company is a data warehouse and analytics vendor. However, EMC wasn’t about to lose an opportunity to fly the cloud flag in its press release on the acquisition announcement, according to which: Greenplum’s “disruptive data warehousing technology [is] a key enabler of “big data” clouds and self-service analytics.” That’s almost poetic.

EMC branching out beyond its storage-centric roots is, of course, nothing new. And the Greenplum acquisition seems to make more sense than the Documentum and RSA acquisitions originally did, although it may not be quite as impressive as the VMware and Data Domain acquisitions are proving to be.

Greenplum has a shared-nothing, massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture for data warehousing and analytical processing, delivered on a virtualized x86 infrastructure (unlike, oh, Oracle’s Exadata).

EMC plans to meld Greenplum’s architecture with its own private cloud vision/architecture. After the acquisition, Greenplum will become part of a new Data Computing Product Division at EMC.

On the surface, this just looks like a solid acquisition at what I assume to be a good price. But to get an idea of what EMC is really up to here, read Chuck Hollis’ blog: “EMC to Acquire Greenplum.”

Noting that the Greenplum architecture is based on a virtualized x86 infrastructure, Chuck notes that: “All of EMC’s storage products are x86 based – this creates a potential pathway where data intensive functions could be run closer to the information, freeing the compute farm to do what it does best.”

“The vast majority of these data warehouses contain sensitive information and produce analysis that is either confidential or otherwise privileged. Think information security and data loss prevention, for example.”

“Much of the higher-order analysis produces rich content that frequently drives a collaborative workflow among knowledge workers. Think about EMC’s assets in content management, collaborative workflows and case management.”

“And . . . let’s not forget the seductive appeal of running on-demand business analytics as yet another fully virtualized workload using dynamic resources in a private cloud model. Like running on a good-sized Vblock, for example.”

Is this a competitive reaction to Oracle? No, according to Hollis. And it won’t disrupt EMC’s relationships with vendors such as Sybase, SAP, Microsoft and ParAccell (Greenplum competitors, as are vendors such as Netezza and Teradata).

It’s impossible to opine about the sagacity of an acquisition if you don’t know how much a company paid, but I’m guessing that EMC (NYSE:EMC) got a good deal here. And it gives them a great opportunity to demonstrate unique use cases for their private cloud vision, not to mention the opportunity to sell a lot of hardware because the data warehouses that Greenplum plays in are measured in petabytes.

Greenplum customers include NASDAQ OMX, NYSE Euronext, Skype, Equifax and T-Mobile.

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posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson
Editor-in-Chief

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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