EMC acquires Greenplum for data warehousing, analytics

EMC buys Greenplum for its massively parallel processing database platform to extend its product portfolio outside of data storage; is a competitor to Oracle's Exadata in the works?

EMC Corp. picked up another piece of the IT infrastructure stack outside of storage Wednesday when it acquired privately held data warehousing vendor Greenplum Inc.

Greenplum's product platform includes Greenplum Database, a massively parallel processing (MPP) database for analytical processing; a free single-node version of Greenplum Database; and Greenplum Chorus, which is aimed at enterprise clouds and includes self-service provisioning, data collaboration and data services. Greenplum claims its analytical database software runs up to 100 times faster than traditional databases, while running on x86 hardware.

EMC did not disclose the price for the cash transaction, which the vendor said would likely close by the end of September.

EMC has acquired other companies that did not sell storage, ranging from established vendors such as RSA Security and VMWare to smaller data center and network management companies such as nLayers and Voyence. The move to gain database and data warehouse technology can provide a counter to Oracle Corp.'s ability to build an integrated stack by combing hardware from Sun Microsystems with its database applications.

Chuck Hollis, EMC's vice president, global marketing chief technology officer, said Greenplum will become the nucleus of a new data computing product division within EMC's Information Infrastructure business. He said EMC will continue to sell Greenplum's existing products but also use the technology with EMC platforms such as security, knowledge management and document management.

Hollis said Greenplum fits the cloud model because its self-service capabilities let customers "power on, get the data they need, get answers they need quickly and not do it using a traditional IT-type process."

Greenplum's technology gives EMC the ability to build a data warehousing system to compete with Oracle's Exadata, which includes Oracle database software running on Sun storage. Hollis said the difference would be that Greenplum runs on commodity hardware.

"A lot of vendors are building closed stacks," Hollis said. "We try to play the middle ground by visualizing everything. We can be a 'cloudifier' of other stacks such as Oracle, Microsoft and HP. I don't think you'll see us in a closed ecosystem. People want best of breed."

Brian Babineau, senior consulting analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, said Greenplum was attractive to EMC because it is strictly a software company and can be used as a database or to optimize databases.

"EMC saw that there's clearly a void in the market from a software perspective to solve the database performance challenge," Babineau said. "Oracle took the hardware approach and built a vertically integrated stack that can be viewed as competitive to EMC. Greenplum took a software-only approach that leverages commodity-based resources and can fit into an existing data warehouse without replacing the database, or they can become the database for the data warehouse. This database was designed to use shared compute and shared storage resources."

Scott Yara, Greenplum's president and co-founder, said the company has 140 employees and its customers include Nasdaq, NYSE Euronext, Skype, Equifax, T-Mobile and Fox Interactive Media.

Bill Cook, Greenplum's CEO, will lead EMC's new data computing product division, reporting to EMC president of information infrastructure products Pat Gelsinger. Yara said Greenplum has a lot of Sun DNA, with Sun founder and former CEO Scott McNealy serving as an unpaid adviser. Yara said he expects McNealy to stay involved following the acquisition.

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