That Was the Year That Was: Major Data Warehousing Events of 2011 (Plus Predictions for 2012)

How well did analyst Mike Schiff predict DW trends for 2011, and what's in store for next year?

As 2011 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 2012. First, let's review my predictions from last year:

In December of 2010, I predicted that the following would occur in 2011:

Further industry consolidation

My prediction 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 2011" section (below) for details. However, my most likely acquisition target, Informatica, continued to remain independent and even made several acquisitions of its own, such as data replication vendor WisdomForce Technologies and data security vendor ActiveBase.

IBM will leverage its acquisition of Netezza to establish a new "n Series" of computers.

The prediction that the Netezza platforms would not soon be running DB2 proved correct as did my prediction that IBM would seek to minimize potential conflict by giving the Netezza data warehouse appliances their own branding. However, IBM did not establish a new "n Series." Instead, it simply adopted "IBM Netezza appliance" and "Netezza - an IBM Company" in its branding.

SAP will leverage the acquired Sybase Databases

Although SAP's enterprise software applications can now run on the Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise database, SAP seems to be downplaying these capabilities. I suspect that it is doing so to avoid alienating database partners Microsoft and IBM, even as it reminds potential Oracle database users of this database option. Furthermore, although Sybase IQ is certified to integrate with SAP Netweaver BI, it is not one of the underlying engines for the SAP Netweaver Business Warehouse.

Quicker collaboration and more in-meeting analytics

Rather than hearing "I'll get back to you about that" during meetings, smartphones, near real-time data integration, and high-speed wireless Internet access have made it possible to analyze data or search for answers during, rather than between, meetings. Easy-to-use mobile-based downloadable analysis applications have enabled organizational decision-making.

IT spending will expand in a cost-effective manner

The economy continued to recover from the recession, but expenditures are still being closely watched. Although IT spending, especially in the BI market, is growing, increased spending on personnel is lagging spending on hardware and software. IT staff additions often rely on contractors rather than employees.

Major Data Warehousing Events of 2011

Industry consolidations continued

In 2011, Teradata acquired Aster Data for big data analytics and acquired Aprimo for cloud-based marketing automation software. HP acquired Vertica for its column-based database. IBM acquired i2 for analytics and Algorithmics for risk management. Oracle's acquisitions included data quality vendor Datanomic and BI vendor Endeca; Oracle also announced its intention to acquire cloud-based customer service vendor RightNow.

HP imploded

After Hewlett Packard replaced former NCR president and Teradata head Mark Hurd with former SAP executive Leo Apotheker in November 2010, the once-visionary "HP Way" seemed to have lost direction. After several quarters of disappointing earnings, the abandonment of its Neoview data warehousing initiative, and the announcement of its intention to spin off its PC division, the HP board decided to spin off Mr. Apotheker instead. Hopefully, HP's new CEO, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, will help HP steer a better course.

Oracle extends its "Exa" platforms

Oracle extended its Exadata database platform with the launch of its Exalogic Elastic Cloud application server at Oracle OpenWorld in September 2010 and the launch of its Exalytics in-memory BI appliance at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 in September 2011. Oracle also announced plans for a yet-to-be-named Hadoop appliance (ExaBIG?).

Social media became a major data source

Social Media is now a major data source due, in no small part, to the quick feedback that blogs, tweets, and social networks can provide. Although organizations have long realized that their data warehouses need to augment the data generated by their own operational systems with external data sources, the need for sentiment analysis and advancements in text analytics have made it more important and more feasible to include social media.

It was cloudy everywhere

Cloud-based hosting continued to gain acceptance and widespread deployment with offerings that now include raw CPU power, storage, e-mail hosting, data warehouse platforms and associated analytics, backups, operational software applications, media, and data (e.g., consumer, industry, business, etc.). In my opinion, cloud computing is the natural evolution of the 1960s timeshare environments and the 1990s application service providers (ASPs), and it is no longer just a low-cost vehicle for obtaining technology that would be more expensive to license or purchase for in-house deployments. Cloud computing has firmly established itself as an important component of many organizations' overall computing architecture.

Predictions for 2012

Continuing 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 some cases) hardware. I expect vendors still lacking "big data" and in-memory solutions to seek out and acquire those that do. Yes, I have been predicting for the past few years, but I still expect Informatica to be a likely acquisition target.

Oracle will further emphasize its hardware/software platforms

No longer only a software vendor, Oracle will continue to leverage its acquisition of Sun by emphasizing its hardware/software platform solutions. Oracle will expand its "Exa" offerings by marketing the benefits of a single-source integrated hardware/software platform. Oracle, which once defined openness by the number of hardware platforms on which the Oracle database ran, will now focus on how it is a one-stop source for a complete IT solution.

Consumer BI will be a catalyst for pervasive BI

The widespread use of smartphones and other highly mobile devices, combined with the multitude of associated apps, has served to bring practical, easy-to-use, analytic capabilities to consumers. Users will expect the same capabilities in their workplaces, ideally from the mobile device they already carry. This will help bring the dream of pervasive BI closer to reality.

Predictive analytics will thrive

In-memory technology, greatly reduced storage costs, inexpensive commodity-based massively parallel processing capabilities, natural language processing and text analytics, and big data analysis capabilities will allow organizations to collect, analyze, and mine massive amounts of structured and unstructured data. This will have widespread application in governmental (e.g., Homeland Security, IRS, SEC, Medicare, etc.), health care, and commercial organizations. Although consumers have become used to Web-site recommendations when making Web purchases, they should not be surprised to see alerts and recommendations on their mobile devices that are customized to where the recipient currently happen to be.

Data monitoring and data warehouse management utilities will thrive

With the emergence of additional data sources and the ability to analyze vast quantities of data, many organizations will reduce the level of summarization of the data they store in their data warehouses by capturing more detailed data. Furthermore, many organizations now deploy a variety of data warehouse platforms, including enterprise data warehouses, data marts, and data warehouse appliances. Data monitoring software, to determine what data is being accessed by whom, and tools capable of managing multiple data warehouse platforms will find a receptive audience.

I'll report on the accuracy of these predictions next year, when I make new ones for 2013.

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