That Was the Year That Was: Major Data Warehousing Events of 2009 (and Predictions for 2010)

A data warehousing analyst examines the accuracy of his 2009 predictions and reveals the top trends he sees coming next year.

As 2009 draws to a close, it’s time to once again look back at some of the major events of the year and speculate on what might occur in 2010. I'll start with a review of my predictions from last year.

Results of Last Year’s Predictions

In December 2008 I predicted the following would occur this year:

Further Industry Consolidations. Although not keeping up with the rapid pace of the past few years, 2009 has seen several additional acquisitions. See the “Major Data Warehousing Events of 2009” section (below) for details. Furthermore, of my two most likely targets, Informatica and SPSS, I was half right. SPSS was acquired by IBM Perhaps I was only one-quarter correct -- I had speculated that the acquirer would be SAP.

Cloud Computing will Come Down to Earth. In addition to software-as-a-service offerings, cloud-based hardware resources (including storage and computing power) have become an established part of the computing landscape, appealing to both small businesses lacking IT and/or computing resources as well as large organizations wishing to offload special projects or “one-time” efforts that require additional computing power. Cloud computing is an accepted part of the overall computing landscape, especially when additional applications and services such on-line meetings and participation in on-line games are included.

Open Source Growth will Accelerate. The success of open source vendors such as JasperSoft, MySQL (Sun), Pentaho, and Talend demonstrate the correctness of this prediction, as does the growing acceptance of open source software in federal and state governments and agencies. Even the Department of Defense now permits the use of open source technology as most licenses allow users to modify open source code without having to make it publicly available if it is used for internal applications.

The IT World Will Become Greener. Almost every hardware vendor now emphasizes the efficiency of their products in terms of reduced cooling requirements or lower power consumption; users of Windows 7 cite reduced power costs. One of the benefits of virtualization is the ability to more efficiently and more effectively utilize hardware resources in order to reduce both acquisition and operating (including power) expenses.

Major Emphasis on Solutions Rather than Tools and Technology. Many data warehousing vendors now tout their analytic applications and solutions rather than their tools and technology. For example, Netezza now offers a line of applications that leverages the power of its data warehouse appliances.

Major Data Warehousing Events of 2009

Industry Consolidation Continued. Acquisitions in 2009 included data mining specialist SPSS and database access monitoring vendor Guardium by IBM and information management lifecycle vendor Applimation and complex event processing vendor Agent Logic by Informatica. Oracle was especially aggressive with its acquisitions of warehouse acceleration software vendor HyperRoll, middleware vendor BEA Systems, and data integration vendor GoldenGate Software as well as its pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems (see below).

Oracle Attempts to Acquire Sun Microsystems. In my opinion the most notable acquisition event was Oracle’s pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems, an acquisition that (as of press time) has yet to close due to objections from the European Union over Oracle’s potential control of the open source MySQL database. Although much of the focus has been on Sun’s MySQL and Java technologies, I believe that should Oracle succeed in its efforts and retain Sun’s hardware business, it will be a game-changing event. Similar to IBM, Oracle will now be able to offer its own integrated hardware/software technology, albeit at the expense of its other major hardware partners.

Additional Emphasis on Analytics. As organizations continued to recognize the importance of both heritage and predictive analytics in identifying cost-saving opportunities, retaining customers, preventing fraud, and monitoring performance, vendors responded accordingly. For example, IBM, in addition to acquiring SPSS in 2009 (and Cognos in 2008), opened an international network of Business Analytics Solution Centers while SAS aggressively marketed its business analytics prowess.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Encouraged Further BI Deployments. As part of the economic stimulus program to create jobs and stimulate the economy, federal agencies are required to report their use of funds, make their performance plans publicly available, provide detailed agency financial reports, and report their grants and contracts; recipients are required to report on their use of federal funds. This has led to many new deployments of BI tools and corporate (or perhaps more aptly named “government”) performance management analytic applications. Due to allegations of carelessness or even fraud associated with some of the reported statistics, it has also served to raise the awareness of the need for data quality and remind us all that “garbage in, garbage out” still applies.

Predictions for 2010

Looking ahead to next year, I expect the following will occur:

Industry Consolidation Will Continue. Acquisitions will remain a fact of life in the data warehousing industry. With the economy now seemingly in at least the beginning of a recovery, vendors may be more aggressive in acquiring companies and technology to augment their technology portfolios. If I had to pick a likely target, it would be Informatica, perhaps by HP in order to augment its data warehousing portfolio with strong data integration technology.

Integrated Platforms Will Trump Best-of-Breed Product Integration. As organizations continue to prune their list of technology vendors in order to standardize their product deployments and eliminate vendor finger-pointing when integrating multi-vendor solutions, they are increasingly willing to standardize on single-vendor platforms as long as the chosen vendor offers strong technology for their must-have needs and “good enough” technology for less critical needs. Continuing technology acquisitions by industry giants will make it even easier for users to prune their vendor lists.

Windows 7 Will Drive End-User Platform Refreshments. Although the majority of Windows client business users chose to remain with Windows XP rather than migrate to Vista, the October 2009 release of Windows 7 will lead to a major platform refresh cycle of both operating system and hardware platform as Microsoft has now retired mainstream support for non-critical bugs and new enhancements to Windows XP. Vendors of desktop and mobile business intelligence software will rush to ensure that their offerings are compatible with Windows 7.

Data Mining and Predictive Analytics Will Thrive. Although IBM has long been a strong advocate of data mining with its now-retired Intelligent Miner products, its acquisition of SPSS will serve as a catalyst for the company to aggressively market and publicize the benefits of predictive analytics. Combined with the power of data mining of both structured and unstructured data in applications for homeland security, fraud prevention, credit decisions, medical research, and targeted marketing, data mining will receive additional attention.

Search Capabilities Will Become a Core BI Platform Component. As vendors strive to increase sales by making BI more pervasive, the need for robust, context-sensitive, user-friendly, intuitive search capabilities will become increasingly important so that users can find relevant data, reports, and analyses. Through their own development efforts, acquisitions, and strong partnerships, almost all BI vendors will provide cataloguing and search functionality as a core component of their BI platforms.

Cloud Computing will Continue to Become an Increasingly Accepted Component of Data Warehousing Environments. Many data warehousing vendors have already embraced the on-demand channel for their data integration and business intelligence offerings. When combined with the availability of cloud-based storage and computing resources along with the interest Microsoft is likely to generate with its cloud-oriented Azure operating system, more organizations will utilize the cloud to complement (or even replace) their in-house data warehousing deployments. BI vendors not already offering on-demand software will move to establish a cloud presence to compete with vendors that do, especially in the small-to-midsize business (SMB) market. The growing adoption of highly mobile devices (including smart phones and netbooks) will further encourage connection to the cloud.

I’ll report on the results of these predictions next year, when I make new ones for 2011.