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Hitachi Vantara acquires data catalog vendor Waterline Data

With the acquisition of Waterline Data, Hitachi Vantara is bringing new data catalog capabilities that will expand the Lumada Data Services and DataOps portfolio.

Data catalog technology is an essential element of modern data management.

Data catalog capability was also a missing component in Hitachi Vantara's data portfolio, but that's set to change with Hitachi Vantara's announcement Wednesday of the acquisition of privately held data catalog vendor Waterline Data. Financial terms of the acquisition were not publicly disclosed. The acquisition is part of a broader effort at Hitachi Vantara to define a DataOps portfolio with its Lumada Data Services platform.

Hitachi Vantara has been ramping up its data fabric to support various new and emerging business use cases such as customer 360, actionable insights, real-time insights and IoT analytics, explained Noel Yuhanna, a principal analyst at Forrester Research.

"This acquisition helps fill a key gap critical for Hitachi Vantara to drive further innovation and offer a tighter and integrated data management platform," Yuhanna said.

Yuhanna added that Waterline Data is a leading data catalog vendor, according to Forrester Research. Waterline Data's technology automates metadata discovery and enables governance. The acquisition of Waterline Data will help Hitachi Vantara convert data into insights faster, as well as enable easier integration of data silos, according to Yuhanna.

The state of the data catalog market

According to Dave Wells Sr., a research analyst at Eckerson Group, the data catalog market is in the early stages of a significant shift. Wells said he expects to see standalone data catalogs give way to data cataloging integrated as a set of functions embedded into broader tool suites.

The heart of a data catalog is metadata, and metadata management suffers some loss of value when biased toward a single primary purpose.
Dave WellsSenior Research Analyst, Eckerson Group

"The heart of a data catalog is metadata, and metadata management suffers some loss of value when biased toward a single primary purpose," Well said.

Wells added that Waterline Data's initial focus was simply organizing the content of a data lake. Other companies in the data catalog market have also had focused goals, with the Alation data catalog built primarily to support data analysts and the trend toward self-service. Wells added that data catalog vendor Collibra, in contrast, is focused first and foremost on data governance.

"The reality is that none of these things -- analyst needs, governance, data lake management and data integration -- are islands that exist independently of the others," Wells said.

That said, he added that the acquisition is probably a good thing for Waterline Data, because the data catalog vendor really needed to be part of a bigger product suite to maintain and begin to grow its somewhat limited market share. For Hitachi Vantara,  Wells said that whether the acquisition is positive depends almost entirely on how well the company can weave data catalog functionality into its DataOps strategy.

Hitachi Vantara's DataOps strategy set to move forward 

451 Research analyst Matt Aslett said that although Hitachi Vantara talked up its data cataloging plans at the launch of its Lumada Data Services offering in late 2019, the ability to discover and manage data through a common metadata layer was very much a work in progress.

"Waterline's data fingerprinting approach, which supports automated tagging of data and metadata to accelerate data discovery, will be a welcome addition to the Lumada Data Services portfolio," Aslett said.

While the acquisition was just announced, Hitachi Vantara already has a solid idea of how it will make use of the Waterline Data technologies within its product portfolio. Lothar Schubert, head of product marketing for the digital solutions business at Hitachi Vantara, explained that the plan is to make Waterline Data technologies available as standalone solutions as well as integrated components of the Lumada Data Services portfolio.

"We plan to integrate Waterline's data catalog with offerings such as Lumada Data Lake, Lumada Data Optimizer and Lumada Edge Intelligence, as well as Pentaho Data Integration and Pentaho Business Analytics," Schubert said.

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