Greenplum buy shapes EMC as systems vendor

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Greenplum buy shapes EMC as systems vendor

Analyst: Signals shift to full-service offering.

EMC's purchase of data warehousing systems provider Greenplum signals a shift towards trying to provide a full-service suite of offerings that reduces the need for enterprises to purchase from multiple vendors, one analyst has suggested.

"This is the first time that EMC has bought itself somebody that makes computing hardware," said Dr Kevin McIsaac from advisory firm IBRS.

"It's an intriguing step, and it's certainly in line with this trend towards vertical integration."

McIsaac argues that EMC, like other major enterprise service players, wants to sell customers an increasingly large complete computing system, rather than forcing them into a de facto system integration role by purchasing best-of-breed components from different vendors.

Customising existing data warehousing platforms is becoming too expensive, McIsaac said, citing one local customer who spent $1.5 million and six months to implement its data warehousing technology. 

The trend towards single vendors is reflected in the move to cloud computing as well as in purchases such as EMC's purchase of Greenplum or HP's acquisition of 3Com, he said.

"They're both a response to the same problem," McIsaac said. "People don't want the cloud because they want the cloud; they want the cloud because it's going to reduce complexity. In effect, IT [departments] have become the systems integrator. They're good at it, but it's a pretty expensive approach -- everybody's doing their own thing and there's no economies of scale."

EMC has downplayed the notion it's trying to build an across-the-board portfolio or compete with rivals such as HP, IBM and Oracle.

"Greenplum is not a general purpose database like Oracle is -- it's specifically optimised for large-scale data warehouse and business analytics using a legacy-free approach," EMC CTO Chuck Hollis wrote on his blog. "No one technology can meet the entire market's needs."

"Today, they're saying 'we're not going into the server business'," McIsaac said. "Obviously they need to say that until they are really ready, because they don't want to get their partners offside."

The acquisition is due to be completed in the third quarter, with Greenplum forming the basis of a new Data Computing Platforms division within EMC.

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