That Was the Year That Was: Major Data Warehousing Events of 2010 (and Predictions for 2011)

As 2010 draws to a close, it’s time to once again review some of the major events of the year and speculate on what might occur in 2011.

As 2010 draws to a close, it's time to once again review some of the major events of the year and speculate on what might occur in 2011. But first, let's review my predictions from last year:

Results of Last Year's Predictions

In December 2009 I predicted that the following would occur this year:

Further industry consolidation: My predictions about additional consolidations proved correct. Companies large and small continued to acquire other companies in order to gain complementary technology and/or additional market share. See the "Major Data Warehousing Events of 2010" section (below) for details. However, my most likely acquisition target, Informatica, continued to remain independent and even made several acquisitions of its own.

Integrated platforms will trump best-of-breed product integration: Many of this year's acquisitions were driven by a desire for vendors to offer one-stop shopping through integrated platforms and solutions. Best-of-breed technology from multiple vendors may sound great, but when a problem arises, organizations have learned that the fewer vendors they need to deal with, the quicker the problem is resolved.

Windows 7 will drive end-user platform refreshes: Windows 7 surpassed Vista's market share in July 2010, just 9 months after its release; many of these installations were on new platforms. Windows 7 has received rave reviews, and when combined with the fact that Windows XP SP2 is now on end-of-life support, it will continue to drive platforms refreshes in 2011 as well.

Data mining and predictive analytics will thrive: Almost every BI vendor now offers data mining technology and has numerous reference accounts and success stories. Although data mining was once considered "advanced analytics," it is now widely accepted and deployed in applications across almost all industries. Companies have historically used data mining to identify revenue generating opportunities including cross-selling and up-selling , or to identify potential fraud. In 2010, many organizations greatly expanded their data mining usage to, for example, identify cost-saving opportunities.

Search capabilities as a core BI platform component: Almost every Web site and portal now has a "search box" to help you locate information within and external to the organization. Many BI vendors have also incorporated search technology into their platform capabilities. Search technology has advanced well beyond keyword searches to encompass advanced capabilities such as natural language and semantic processing.

Cloud computing will continue to become an increasingly accepted component of data warehouse environments: Cloud computing is no longer a novelty or niche technology as evidenced by the fact that several times each month in 2010 cloud computing was a featured story in the technical or financial press. Data warehouse vendors have rushed to establish a cloud presence, with services ranging from on-demand data to complete data warehouse platforms.

Major Data Warehousing Events of 2010

What events were the most significant for data warehousing professionals? Here’s my take on the most important news items of the past year.

IBM acquires Netezza: Although IBM has been in the data warehouse appliance business since it first introduced its Balanced Configuration Unit for AIX in 2005, it upped its presence significantly with its acquisition of data warehouse appliance pioneer Netezza. There should no longer be any doubt that appliances have become an accepted component of an overall data warehouse architecture.

IBM emphasizes analytics: Although much attention has been focused in its acquisition of Netezza, IBM has been aggressively augmenting its analytical capabilities by hiring thousands of consultants, establishing multiple analytics Centers of Excellence, and making numerous acquisitions involving Web analytics, compliance, MDM, and data integration. In May 2010, IBM also committed to a five-year road map to spend $20 billion to acquire additional acquisitions with an expected focus on companies involved with business analytics.

Industry consolidations continued: The data warehousing industry continued to consolidate. Informatica made several acquisitions of its own, including MDM vendor Siperian and low-latency messaging vendor 29West. Sybase lost its independence when it was acquired by SAP. Oracle closed its acquisition of Sun (in January) and acquired several additional vendors including product data quality vendor Silver Creek Systems, database specialist DataScaler, and SOA vendor AmberPoint. IBM made several acquisitions in 2010, including OpenPages, Clarity, and PSS Systems for their data governance technology, CoreMetrics and Unica for their Web analytics, Initiate for its healthcare MDM technology, Cast Iron Systems for integrating cloud-based and on-premise systems, and data warehouse appliance pioneer Netezza. EMC acquired appliance vendor Greenplum and Tibco acquired Netrics for its entity resolution capabilities.

Big data is big: The need to analyze vast quantities of structured and unstructured data is certainly not new, and due to the growth in Web commerce, call center interactions, call detail records, and ISP subscriber IP address logs, and even social media such as Tweets, the volume keeps growing. Analysis of vast quantities of data will continue to grow as it is applied to a growing number of applications such as market analysis, disease tracking, Medicare fraud detection, and insider stock trading. Thanks to massively parallel processing and technology such as Hadoop and MapReduce, the analysis of "big data" is now quite feasible. In 2010, almost every data warehouse vendor tried to board the "big data" bandwagon with a story about its own initiatives or those of a strategic partner.

Mark Hurd departs HP, arrives at Oracle: In the wake of reports concerning an alleged relationship with a female contractor and expense account irregularities, Mark Hurd, former head of Teradata and president of NCR, resigned from HP and, one month later, became co-president of Oracle. Without attempting to judge his alleged behavior, Hurd's move from HP to Oracle is a clear loss for HP; it adversely affects the little momentum that HP had built for its data warehouse initiative and is a potential win for Oracle now that it is hardware vendor due to its acquisition of Sun.

Predictions for 2011

Here are the events we can look forward to in the year ahead.

IBM will leverage its acquisition of Netezza to establish a new "n Series" of computers: Although IBM has announced that the Netezza technology and employees will become part of the IBM information management software business, I doubt that Netezza platforms will soon be running DB2. IBM will seek to minimize potential conflict by giving the Netezza data warehouse appliances their own branding Of course, IBM once renamed the database on the AS400 (which became the i series and then System i) from DB/400 to DB2 for i, so perhaps the Netezza database will be renamed "DB2 for n."

Further industry consolidations: Industry consolidations will continue as larger vendors try to augment their capabilities in order to deliver more pieces of a total data warehousing solution including the data integration, database, business intelligence, and (in several cases) hardware components. I expect vendors lacking a cloud presence to seek out and acquire those that do. Although I have predicted it before, I still expect Informatica to be an acquisition target.

SAP will leverage the acquired Sybase databases: Although much attention has been focused on how SAP will benefit from Sybase's mobile technology, I expect Sybase's database technology to provide significant benefits to SAP. Many organizations chose to run SAP on the Oracle Database and SAP would rather not help its arch-rival gain additional revenue and an entry point into SAP accounts. I expect Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise to be one of the databases engines for SAP's enterprise software and for the SAP NetWeaver Data Warehouse to take advantage of Sybase IQ. In public, Sybase will downplay its database technology as a potential platform of SAP applications, as it does not want to upset the strong partnerships it has formed with other database vendors (and Oracle rivals) including IBM and Microsoft.

Quicker collaboration and more in-meeting analytics: Smartphones, near real-time data integration, and high-speed wireless Internet access have made it far easier and more convenient for users to analyze data during, rather than between, meetings. The dream of pervasive BI will be significantly advanced as easy-to-use, downloadable analysis applications will greatly facilitate organizational decision-making.

IT spending will expand in a cost-effective manner: As the economy continues to recover from the recession, organizations will increase their spending on IT. However, increased spending on personnel will likely lag increased spending on hardware and software; many IT staff additions and replacements will likely involve contractors rather than employees. Expenditures will still be closely monitored, and the deployment of cost-effective technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing will increase.

I'll report on the accuracy of these predictions next year, when I make new ones for 2012.