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EMC-Greenplum acquisition shakes up data warehousing appliance market

EMC’s plan to buy analytical database provider Greenplum Software has a lot of ramifications for the software industry, according to one analyst.

EMC Corp. said today that it plans to acquire Greenplum Software, a maker of embedded analytical databases and cloud-based data warehousing appliances.

The move should shake up the data warehousing appliance, content management and virtualization software markets, according to one IT industry analyst.

For starters, the Greenplum acquisition means EMC will soon boast key pieces of the data warehousing puzzle it had previously offered only through partnerships, said James Kobielus, a data management analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. That functionality includes an increasingly popular analytic database as well as query planning, optimization and data loading tools.

The news also means that EMC is joining the ranks of giant vendors like Oracle and IBM,  who have increasingly sought to become one-stop-shops for everything having to do with data warehousing, including hardware, software and professional services, the analyst said.

“It’s been sort of a horse race to put together a complete [data warehousing] stack,” Kobielus said. “This gets [EMC] into a very hot market.”

Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, a company once known best for its data storage appliances, announced the deal late this afternoon, citing the strength of Greenplum’s massively-parallel scale out architecture and self-service consumption model. EMC said the acquisition will be an all-cash transaction, although further financial details were not disclosed. The two companies expect to close the deal in the third quarter of 2010.

Greenplum says its analytical database technology runs up to 100 times faster and costs less than traditional database software. The company, which was founded in 2003, quickly made a name for itself through an innovative style, according to Kobielus. It boasts about 120 clients including NASDAQ OMX Group Inc. and Equifax Inc.

EMC and Greenplum offer technologies that seem to be meant for each other, Kobielus explained.

In addition to being a storage giant, EMC owns VMware, the world’s foremost virtualization platform and tools provider, according to Kobielus. Meanwhile, the analyst continued, one of Greenplum’s key strengths is the ability to run data warehousing environments in the cloud.

 “So you’ve got a data-warehousing-in-the-cloud pureplay and leading virtualization platform vendor coming together,” Kobielus said. “This is a huge virtualization story.”

EMC also owns content management solutions provider Documentum, a company that excels at handling unstructured or semi-structured information, Kobielus said.  Greenplum’s offerings, meanwhile, deal almost exclusively in structured relational data. In an era where the lines between structured and unstructured data fade a little more each day, this could end up being a strong combination.

“More and more data warehouses in the real world are using unstructured content in addition to structured relational data,” Kobielus said. “I think the Documentum team will work with the Greenplum team on continuing to build out Greenplum’s ability to handle unstructured content.”

Advanced analytics tools seriously increase the ability to handle unstructured content in a data warehouse. That’s why Kobielus thinks EMC may choose to go after small data mining, text mining or social networking analysis software companies next.

“I wouldn’t put it past EMC to make some more analytics acquisitions to complement the Greenplum,” he said.

Good news for Greenplum customers

The acquisition should come as good news for Greenplum customers, Kobielus said, because EMC plans to keep Greenplum’s entire team and product roadmap intact.

At the same time, Kobielus added, current and potential Greenplum customers will benefit from EMC’s vast financial resources, which will lead to better research and development and a bigger partner ecosystem.

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