Commenting on Software Technology Trends & Market Dynamics

Jnan Dash

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HP, the giant technology company with revenues of $130B, is moving aggressively into software based on its recent actions. First it acquired Vertica, a column-based database company. Then the new CEO announced the wider adoption of WebOS in all its PCs, Tablets, and mobile devices. He also outlined a cloud strategy for HP.

Let us look at a bit of history. HP has not really focused on a comprehensive software strategy. It’s product OpenView is a good one in the systems management arena, competing with IBM’s Tivoli and CA’s Unicenter products. Then it acquired OpsWare and Mercury Interactive, both in data center infrastructure management space. It has no products in the DBMS, or middleware space nor in the EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse) or BI space. It’s brave attempt to create a Teradata-killer called Neoview (based on the ancient Tandem Non-stop SQL technology) did not go anywhere. The acquisition of Vertica pretty well put an end to Neoview. In the mean time, the “stack” war has started in full swing – IBM, Oracle, Microsoft being the key players. SAP is also trying to be a wider player with its acquisition of Sybase and Business Objects.

Add to this, the emergence of the Data Warehouse appliance for specialized data-intensive workloads for analytics. IBM acquired Netezza and EMC acquired Greenplum. Oracle is combining the Oracle DBMS with Sun Server to come up with the Exadata appliance. In that context, HP’s acquisition of Vertica to become a part of an appliance is quite predictable.

HP’s partnership with Oracle is coming to an end, now that Oracle announced an end to supporting Intel’s Itanium chip (used in HP Servers). Now HP has two strong partners – Microsoft and SAP. The Microsoft partnership is at threat now with the WebOS announcement. The SAP partnership is also impacted by the Vertica solution, which competes with Sybase IQ product. But it was HP few years ago who coined the phrase “co-opetition” (competing and co-operating at the same time).

HP does not have a clear road map yet in software. What appears so far is a fragmented approach of bits and pieces. But I am sure there is a grand plan being worked out and let us hope this time around, HP will come up with a comprehensive set of software products to fight IBM and Oracle.

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Jnan Dash is Senior Advisor at EZShield Inc., Advisor at ScaleDB and Board Member at Compassites Software Solutions. He has lived in Silicon Valley since 1979. Formerly he was the Chief Strategy Officer (Consulting) at Curl Inc., before which he spent ten years at Oracle Corporation and was the Group Vice President, Systems Architecture and Technology till 2002. He was responsible for setting Oracle's core database and application server product directions and interacted with customers worldwide in translating future needs to product plans. Before that he spent 16 years at IBM. He blogs at