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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Starting with a Clean Slate

There's reason to think HPE can put its muscle behind its creditable analytical technologies and, finally, make good on its promise.

If you glanced at Gartner Inc.'s most recent "Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions for Analytics," your eyes might have paused over a strange new entry: "HPE."

In the Magic Quadrant, Gartner scores each vendor on several predefined criteria, runs those scores through a model, and plots the resulting performance of each vendor as a blue dot on the Cartesian grid of the Magic Quadrant. On the 2016 edition of its "Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions for Analytics," Gartner has HPE sitting almost on top of the Y axis that separates the "Visionaries" from the "Leaders" quadrants.

What is HPE? It's Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co., the entity created just last November, when the former Hewlett-Packard Co. split into the business-focused HPE and the consumer-focused HP Inc. The split was big news late last year.

It's also newsworthy that the new HPE fares worse than the former Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) on Gartner's report.

In 2015, Gartner still had HP as a leader, albeit barely: HP was just above the X axis in the Leaders quadrant, only barely removed from being a mere Visionary. In 2014, too, Gartner listed HP as a Leader, although by the skin of its teeth. What changed between 2014 and 2016 and, no less important, when is HP, or HPE, going to get its act together?

One big difference is a change in nomenclature. In 2014, Gartner still published its "Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Database Management Systems" [emphasis ours].

It wasn't until 2015 that Gartner adopted the new name. Its reason for doing so had to do with the emergence of non-traditional data warehouse-like platforms -- such as Cloudera Inc.'s Cloudera Distribution of Hadoop (CDH) with Impala, Hortonworks Inc.'s distribution of Hadoop with Hive/Tez, or Pivotal Greenplum's HAWQ technology running in the context of Hadoop -- that, along with the traditional data warehouse, comprise what Gartner now calls "data management solutions for analytics," or DMSAs.

A data warehouse is, or can be, a DMSA, says Gartner -- so, too, can CDH, Hortonworks, or, for that matter, HPE's Vertica (data warehouse) and Haven (a smorgasbord of technologies) offerings.

So far, so good. This doesn't explain why HPE slipped from 2015 to 2016, however.

According to Gartner, HPE gets dinged on a couple of fronts. First, Gartner's own clients aren't asking about it -- or, more precisely, the frequency with which they're inquiring about HPE's DMSA platforms hasn't increased. "HPE has satisfied customers, but we have seen no rise in the number of users of Gartner's client inquiry service who ask about HPE Vertica. This indicates that the vendor still faces a challenge to raise the product's visibility in the market," Gartner analysts Mark Beyer and Roxane Edjlali write, stressing that "formation of HPE could help address this issue."

HPE also gets dinged for what Gartner describes as customer-reported "challenges with the overall administration and management" of the Vertica database. In this case, too, Gartner notes, the situation is "gradually improving." Another drag on HPE's score is Haven, an end-all, be-all platform that combines Vertica, IDOL -- HPE's search and analytics platform for poly-structured data -- and Distributed R (a distributed R environment that integrates with Vertica and IDOL).

In addition to a conventional, on-premises Haven deployment model, HPE offers its Haven OnDemand cloud service, too. "HPE Haven OnDemand offers a promising set of cloud data management and analytical services, but is separate from the Vertica offering, and as result demonstrates a fragmented strategy across the two," Beyer and Edjlali write. "This will affect customers' ability to use both in combination, particularly in cloud and hybrid cloud-and-on-premises deployments."

Is there hope that HPE will get its act together? Plenty, says Gartner. First, as Beyer and Edjlali note, the formation of HPE -- with HPE's dedicated enterprise focus -- could help raise the profiles of HPE's analytical offerings. In Vertica, HPE has a best-of-breed columnar massively parallel processing (MPP) analytics database. Vertica -- along with the former ParAccel (since acquired by Actian) -- was part of the columnar wave of data warehouse appliances that burst on the scene in 2007.

By all accounts, Vertica was and is a speedy MPP database platform. Late last year, product marketing manager Steven Sarsfield told TDWI's BI This Week newsletter that Vertica has several distinct advantages over its competitors. He cited:

  • In-database analytical processing
  • Vertica's SQL-on-Hadoop technology
  • Late materialization, which permits Vertica to perform operations on compressed columns in-memory
  • High-speed loading (Facebook Inc., a Vertica customer, loads 35 TB of data an hour into its data warehouse)
  • In-database MOLAP and ROLAP.

True, all of Vertica's big-name competitors also tout similar capabilities. That's the thing, however: those competitors are already in the Leaders quadrant of Gartner's report.

Vertica isn't HPE's only weapon. In IDOL, it has a best-of-breed enterprise search technology. (Vertica and Haven might not have cracked the Leaders quadrant in the "Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse and Data Management Solutions for Analytics." In Gartner's 2015 "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Search," however, HP IDOL made the Leader board -- with the highest score among leaders on the "Ability to Execute" axis.)

As Beyer and Edjlali write, HPE has plenty going for it. "Customers rate HPE Vertica highly in terms of value for money. This differentiates HPE from other major vendors in this market," they note. "HPE Vertica caters to the major market trends, with support for cloud delivery, the [Logical Data Warehouse] ... and rich in-database analytics capabilities."

For these and other factors, there's reason to think the reconstituted HPE can put its muscle behind Vertica, IDOL, and Haven and -- finally -- make good on the erstwhile HP's promise.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at [email protected].

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