HP buying Vertica for analytics

HP's move marks the first big strategic play by new CEO Leo Apotheker

By , IDG News Service |  Software, business intelligence, HP

Hewlett-Packard announced Monday it plans to buy data warehousing and analytics vendor Vertica for an undisclosed sum.

The move comes shortly after HP phased out its Neoview data warehousing platform, which failed to gain much market share since its launch several years ago.

Vertica's technology will enable HP to deliver "sophisticated, real-time business analytics for large and complex sets of data in physical, virtual and cloud environments," the company said in a statement.

The acquisition also represents recently appointed HP CEO Léo Apotheker's most significant strategic move since joining the company in September. Apotheker is expected to detail his plans in more depth at an event in March.

Vertica, based in Billerica, Massachusetts, was co-founded in 2005 by Mike Stonebraker, a longtime database industry figure known for his work on Ingres and Postgres.

It has a number of competitors, such as Infobright and Aster Data Systems, which are also viewed as potential acquisition targets.

"Vertica sees itself as a parallel computing innovator as much as it is a database technology innovator. Perhaps HP agreed," said analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "But I don't expect anything out of Vertica beyond database and adjacent technologies, e.g. advanced analytics, for a long time to come. That's an aggressive development plan on its own."

Vertica's technology pipeline is strong and it has achieved more early market success than some of its peers, Monash also said.

HP is conducting a broad-based strategy for data analytics, having recently announced plans with Microsoft for a new set of analytic appliances.

Overall, the company's direction is not surprising, given Apotheker's track record as former CEO of SAP, which found success through the acquisition of BI (business intelligence) software vendor Business Objects, as well as the fact that analytics products sales have remained fairly strong through the global economic recession.

HP would be served well if it followed up the Vertica purchase by acquiring StreamBase, maker of CEP (complex event processing) technologies, Monash said. Stonebraker also founded StreamBase.

CEP software analyzes the streams of transactions that occur in IT systems, searching for patterns and correlations and triggering responses. Financial services firms have been a big adopter of CEP for purposes such as rapid-fire stock trading, although it is being used in other industries as well.

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