Gartner Magic Quadrant ranks data warehouse appliance vendors

EMC-Greenplum is a new "leader" in the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant report on data warehouse software and appliance vendors. Find out who else tops Gartner's rankings.

The data warehouse appliance market is continuing to pick up speed with vendors like Oracle, IBM and Teradata all ramping up marketing tactics in an effort to win new business, according to a recently released Gartner Magic Quadrant report.

But organizations mulling an investment in data warehouse appliance technology need to ignore the marketing hype and instead base purchasing decisions on customer references and proof-of-concept demonstrations, the report from Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc. advised.

"All the vendors have stepped up their marketing efforts as the competition has grown," the report reads. "End-user organizations should ignore marketing claims about the applicability and performance capabilities of solutions."

Gartner's annual Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems provides a general assessment of the data warehouse appliance market and ranks vendors based on customer surveys and interviews and several metrics such as “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.”

Despite the sluggish economy, demand for data warehouse appliances began growing again in 2010 after remaining flat in 2009, while increased consolidation continued to characterize the market, according to the report.

Gartner named Teradata, Oracle and IBM the most dominant "leaders" in the market, followed by Sybase, which was acquired by SAP last year; and Netezza, acquired by IBM last year. The only new addition to the leaders quadrant was Greenplum Software, which EMC purchased in 2010.

Vertica, which was recently acquired by Hewlett-Packard Co., remained in the "niche players" quadrant, indicating that the company has a low share of the data warehouse appliance market and appeals to a select crowd.

Silicon Valley-based Aster Data Systems Inc., which was acquired by Teradata last month, just days after the Gartner Magic Quadrant was released, remained in the “visionaries” quadrant. Gartner says the visionaries quadrant is generally reserved for highly innovative companies that currently lack the ability to effectively execute their vision.

"The first thing that is real clear is that the [dominant] leaders remained the leaders," said Donald Feinberg, a data management analyst with Gartner and co-author of the report. "[Teradata, Oracle and IBM] all have a lot of money that they spend on [research and development], and so therefore it's not surprising."

Aster Data fills in Teradata's blanks

Teradata may be the most dominant vendor in the data warehouse appliance market, but until its recent purchase of Aster Data, the company didn't really have a decent way of dealing with Hadoop MapReduce, according to Feinberg. Hadoop MapReduce is an increasingly popular software framework for writing applications that process vast amounts of data.

"[Aster Data has] probably the most sophisticated use of Hadoop MapReduce," Feinberg said. "They have put MapReduce capabilities into their SQL language and called it SQL MapReduce, which is now patented by them."

SQL MapReduce gives Teradata users the ability to more easily make sense of graph data, which is used when organizations want to discover trends or commonalities that exist among vast amounts of data. For example, Feinberg said, an online gaming company may want to match up like-minded players. To accomplish this, they can create a graph that maps out the many qualities associated with each individual user. The points of commonality are located wherever attributes intersect.

"That really gets big, volume-wise, very quickly," said Feinberg, who added the combination of MapReduce and SQL should make it easier for traditional SQL programmers to use the framework.

Getting to know Greenplum

The newest leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant report, Greenplum Software, got a nice financial boost after being acquired by EMC last year. But the company was already doing pretty well on its own, according to the report.

"Greenplum has a strong vision and understanding of the data warehouse market," the report read. "It has demonstrated production scalability to more than hundreds of terabytes. It has also shown the ability to run and manage mixed workloads for a number of references."

Greenplum supports all the major data integration and business intelligence platforms, including open source players like Jaspersoft Corp., Pentaho Corp. and Talend, according to Gartner. The company was also the first data warehouse appliance vendor to deliver a product for use in a private cloud infrastructure -- Greenplum Chorus.

Despite those strengths, however, potential Greenplum buyers should be aware that any major acquisition can lead to customer service and support issues.

"Now that Greenplum is part of EMC, it will find itself competing at a higher level with the mature, incumbent vendors," the report read. "It must continue to demonstrate differentiation and to support customers accustomed to the type of service provided by a small company. It must minimize the disruption of being acquired by a large company."

Mark Brunelli is the News Editor for Follow him on Twitter @Brunola88.

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