HP Buys ILM Maker OuterBay

Updated: With the purchase, HP hopes to help organizations get a handle on database growth and drastically improve database performance.

Hewlett-Packard is buying OuterBay, a maker of information lifecycle management software that culls inactive data from databases to make a leaner, swifter, less expensive way to administer production databases.

OuterBays ADM (Application Data Management) Suite relocates inactive data—what users may consider closed transactions—to less expensive servers and storage technologies, while retaining user and application transparency.

OuterBay and HP already have a tight relationship. In September, the two signed a worldwide technology and distribution agreement under which OuterBays ADM Suite would be resold by HP.

The OuterBay purchase is part of HPs strategy to bolster its server, storage and software offerings, HP said in a release. Other recent purchases with the same goal in mind were HPs purchase of storage vendor AppIQ and its buy of asset management and IT service management provider Peregrine Systems, both announced in September.

"Were learning how to do these acquisitions better," said Mike Feinberg, vice-president and chief technology officer of HPs StorageWorks Division. "I think the way you think about AppIQ [as part of HP] is very similar to OuterBay. You can buy storage management without buying server management; thats a similar concept well have with the database."

Feinberg said HP plans to use OuterBays database archiving technology in conjunction with its HP StorageWorks RISS (Reference Information Storage System) to provide customers with enhanced search and indexing capabilities by using XML representation within tiered storage systems.

He admitted that HP has underperformed in terms of storage innovation and products in the last few years, but said its recent acquisition spree is evidence that the company has heeded HP CEO Mark Hurds direction to turn around the fortunes of the business division.

"Some of our [storage] technology was long in the tooth and we didnt integrate in ways we should have. We recognize the past and weve learned from the past … you wont see HP apologizing, well be much more aggressive," Feinberg said.

With OuterBay, HP plans to help organizations get a handle on database growth and improve database performance by up to 80 percent. This will help HP expand its footprint with customers deploying Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase databases, along with enterprise applications including Oracles E-Business Suite, SAP and PeopleSoft.

Typically, the need for database archiving is driven by the need to corral critical business processes and applications, such as company financials, human resources, billing, CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning).

Charlie Garry, a former Meta Group vice president and currently a consultant, said HPs move for OuterBay is indicative of impending consolidation in the ILM (information lifecycle management) space. Years ago, Garry predicted that the ILM market would hit $2.2 billion by 2007, but its "not even close" to that size now, he said, given that organizations have been focusing more on e-mail archiving in the current compliance-heavy environment.

As far as database or application archiving goes, none of the vendors has talked a good-enough game to make the ILM market grow, Garry said. "It never jumped into the mainstream thought that this is a fundamental process we should be doing to maintain overall performance of our infrastructure and stay as agile as possible," he said.

But when you look carefully at streamlining of databases, its a no-brainer, Garry said, since it impacts not only performance but also costs associated with maintenance and administration of ever-larger databases.

The reason enterprises arent doing it boils down to the old canard: Storage is cheap. "One [IT manager whos a client], high up at Avon, he said, I dunno, we had [an ILM vendor] in here, and we looked at it, but we decided storage is cheap," Garry recounted. "But if I had known it did all the things you just told me it does …"

/zimages/1/28571.gifEMC unveils a number of storage and virtualization products designed to enhance information lifecycle management capabilities. Click here to read more.

ILM actually sprang from storage vendors who foretold the dropping revenue that comes along with the concept that storage is cheap. Obviously, many of the ILM offerings have been storage-centric, given its beginnings.

But the concepts of things such as e-mail archiving have little to do with ILM and how it interacts with applications and databases, Garry said. Whereas e-mail archiving solutions just make a copy of every e-mail that comes in or out or an organization, having no impact on saving storage or having nothing to do with improving performance in the database space, ILM is all about looking at and determining through complex business rules what data doesnt need to be in a production database any longer, since its not being accessed much or at all.

Moving inactive data from a production database into an archive means the production instance of the database is smaller. It performs better, it can be backed up better, and its less costly to manage. If this isnt done, databases get bigger, requiring more time to tune and to keep performing acceptably.

Garry referred to Solix, another ILM player thats thinking even bigger. Solix is looking at database subsetting, for example, meaning technology that allows uses to take a small but referentially intact chunk of data from a live production database—a working subset, in other words.

So instead of having to copy an entire 3-terabyte database for a given sales region to write reports on, for example, users can store a subset thats maybe 3GB, is still valid and still lets users work with it.

Garry challenges the idea that storage is cheap, at any rate. Hes set to give a speech at an ILM forum next week in which he will display numbers hes crunched regarding how much enterprises are spending on unorganized data maintenance and administration.

It isnt pretty. For example, Garry recently worked with one client who complained about spending too much on Oracle licenses. After Garry checked out the clients systems, he reported that it was costing the customer some $10 million annually to maintain the databases, given system administrators and database administrators. It was five times what the customer was spending on Oracle licenses, he said.

Given the rising awareness of the problem, Garry predicts well see more consolidation in the ILM space.

EMC in particular is now in a "tough spot and will need to acquire someone," Garry said. He pointed to Solix, Princeton Softech and Applimation as being possible buys.

Steve Duplessie, senior analyst and co-founder of storage research firm Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass., said a recent report released by his organization showed that 49 percent of organizations surveyed said they will purchase a defined database archiving tool in the next 24 months. That number jumps by 35 percent beyond 24 months for respondents.

HP should have a major advantage selling its new database archiving business over larger-sized storage competitors and niche vendors by relying on its large server and HP product install base and pushing its reputation as a trusted source, he added.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information from a company representative and comments from an analyst.

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