Will EMC, Greenplum Acquisition Spark Data Warehouse Consolidation?

Storage giant EMC announced this week that it plans to acquire data warehousing vendor Greenplum. Analysts say the move could be a harbinger of more acquisitions in the data warehousing space.

EMC's plan to buy data warehousing specialist Greenplum may be a harbinger of more acquisitions in the data warehousing space, analysts say.

According to EMC, the deal will help lay the foundation for a new data computing product division within EMC's Information Infrastructure business. Greenplum's database uses a shared-nothing MPP (massively parallel processing) architecture designed for business intelligence and analytical processing on commodity hardware, and the company has made a push to help enterprises to store data in the cloud.

According to Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus, the deal signals the data warehousing space is at the start of a new round of consolidations.

"Just as Oracle acquired Sun in part to offer fully one-stop integrated data warehousing appliances (i.e., Oracle Exadata over Oracle Sun hardware), EMC comes from the other end of the telescope - acquiring a DW software vendor to layer on top of its hardware and possibly leverage its other software technologies at a later date," he said. "In this way, EMC now becomes one of the few data warehousing appliance vendors that can provide a reasonably full stack of hardware and software from its own portfolio."

"When I say 'reasonably full' in this context, I'm referring to the hardware (EMC is storage, but will still rely on third-parties to provide the server and interconnects), database (Greenplum has extended/customized the open-source BizGreSQL), query planning/optimization, data-loading, and workload management (Greenplum has built its own technology in those three areas)."

In that regard, EMC will be one of several integrated, one-stop hardware/software stack data warehouse appliance vendors on the market, a list that also includes IBM, Oracle/Sun and HP are others, he added.

Curt Monash, head of Monash Research, said it is a bit much to say the EMC/Greenplum deal will "trigger" more acquisitions, but consolidation in the market is inevitable.

"Participants with good reasons for surviving include Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Sybase, Teradata, Netezza, Greenplum, Vertica [Systems], Aster [Data], and more," he told eWEEK. "That's too many to all remain as independent companies. Some will buy each other. HP needs to buy somebody at some point. Dell and Cisco [Systems] are the ones who might feel a bit pushed to make acquisitions if their competitors' stacks are too successful."

According to EMC, the deal is a head nod to the industry's shift toward "big data" analytics, with Greenplum's MPP, scale-out architecture and self-service consumption model combining with EMC's virtualized Private Cloud infrastructure to offer a solution for tomorrow's big-data challenges.

"EMC's strength in the enterprise, and Greenplum's push to fully transform data warehousing and business analytics, makes for a perfect fit," said Scott McNealy, executive advisor to Greenplum, in a statement. "Together they are brilliantly bringing together the power of cloud computing, virtualization, and social collaboration to help customers as they venture into the next phase of computing and business analytics."