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EMC's 'big data' efforts gain momentum

New Greenplum products and an alliance SAS will increase data warehousing options, analysts say

EMC Corp's push into the big data analytics market received a boost this week on two fronts.

On Tuesday, the company added three new models to its Greenplum Data Computing Appliance (DCA) line of products, including a system optimized for high capacity and another optimized for high performance. The company also rolled out version 4.1 of the Greenplum Database.

Separately on Tuesday, SAS Institute said its SAS High-Performance Analytics technology will be added to EMC's DCA products.

The announcements should boost EMC's credentials in the data warehousing and business analytics business, analysts said.

Adding the SAS technology means that Greenplum users will soon be able to perform complex analytical computations on their data without having to first move it to a SAS environment.

"The SAS integration I think is very important for EMC Greenplum at a number of levels," said James Kobielus, an analyst with Forrester Research. "Customers of data warehousing solutions are looking more and more to run advanced analytics" without necessarily having to move their data to specialized platform such as SAS, Kobielus said.

The integration of the two environments will let Greenplum users take advantage of their massively-parallel, high-performance data warehouse appliances to run SAS analytics significantly faster, he said.

David Menninger, an analyst with Ventana Research called the integration between SAS and EMC's Greenplum DCA hardware an important move for both companies.

"Greenplum customers can now select SAS more easily because they don't have to move their data out from one environment to another," he said. "Greenplum customers are clearly getting some analytics capabilities they didn't have previously. SAS is the gold standard in this space."

At the same time, the move is important for SAS as well, Menninger said.

"SAS cannot survive if the only way they work is to take data out of DB2 or Teradata or Greenplum and put it into SAS," he said. Data volumes are getting increasingly massive and a lot of data is simply not going to be in SAS going forward, he said. "It's very wise for them to partner with places where the data does live," he said.

EMC's new hardware builds on the company's efforts to deliver a range of purpose built appliances for handling different big data needs.

The company's new high-performance DCA, for instance, features a purely solid-state drive (SSD)-based technology for high-speed data crunching while the high capacity DCA is slower, but can host petabytes of data without taking up additional space.

"EMC is offering a series of appliances that are configured differently depending on use case," said Merv Adrian, an analyst with Gartner. "If its volume you are looking for and you need to manage costs then you can use a slower device,"

But if what a company needs is a platform optimized for very high performance workloads, they can choose the less scalable, but faster SSD appliances, he said,

EMC's move comes as a growing number of companies seek new tools to help manage and mine the massive and growing amounts of data collected daily from social media sites and in the form of weblogs, clickstream data and other kinds of unstructured data.

The market for such tools is expected to explode over the next few years. The trend is driving companies such as IBM, Teradata, Oracle and others to rush to market with different technologies aimed at big data needs.

EMC is a relatively new player in big data, first announcing plans for the market last July after acquiring Greenplum . The company also formed a new Data Computing Products division led former Greenplum CEO Bill Cook.

In the months since the acquisition, EMC has more than doubled the number of people in the group and is investing heavily in its growth Adrian said.

"They have grown the division from 150 people to over 400," Adrian said. "EMC has been ramping up [Greenplum] marketing and selling activity very heavily and are getting some really solid early traction in a market where it hasn't been a player."

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan , or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

Read more about bi and analytics in Computerworld's BI and Analytics Topic Center.


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