Appliances have a long way to go to mature - this is true. There are still a lot of customers asking for software packages to run on their existing systems. They rightfully want to leverage their existing investment in infrastructure. However, there are companies that are smaller (and some that are larger) that want to become more nimble, lower their maintenance overhead, replace old technologies with new for competitive advantage, and so on. These companies are looking at appliances in the market space. Appliances are growing up - albeit slowly.
What does this have to do with Convergence?
Software vendors are converging and acquiring to compete, they are beginning to see the value of packing incredible power and performance onto pre-configured hardware platforms, and providing web-interfaces for configuration. Software vendors are converging, as are hardware vendors, on to the notion that integration is king.
In previous blog entries I've discussed the notion of convergence, along with the notions of appliances.
oracle buys sunopsis, redhat acquires meta-matrix, and so on.
What's going on out there?
In my humble opinion, I see some major trends. For example, I went to buy network devices for our new offices recently, and what I found confirmed quite a few things. For instance, a DSL modem with built in wireless, wired, and switching capabilities. It combines a web-interface for administration, a fire-wall, updatable firmware components, and wireless routing capabilities. Another new wireless router combined high speed, Draft N specifications, QoS, streaming video, and a few other functions. A print server combined with a wireless router - eliminating the need for a full computer to do the job.
There's no shortage of convergence: home phones are combining, networking, video, computer ready, and information bases. They've had for years, answering machines built in. Hand-held devices are combining computing power, graphics, video, music, networking, email, phone, and so on. Pretty soon, the PDA will include Bio-metric finger printing and an electronic key to open your car, start your car, and maybe even open your house.
What's this have to do with BI?
Convergence is happening in the BI world, convergence of software vendors (as mentioned above), convergence of hardware vendors, and convergence of software and hardware vendors. All of this is affecting the BI market space. If we want to be nimble, we must be enabled to move faster than our competition. We have to be able to do more with less, which means the machines we use have to become smarter, and more specific in their tasks.
Specialized machines can converge functionality of software with speed and ease of maintenance of hardware. Thus making it easier for plug and play devices to appear on the market - as well as making it easier to mass-produce these devices. These devices can enable the operator to "set it and forget it" when it comes to configuration switches, and when a newer version of the device appears, it is easy to upgrade - replace the entire device (because it's so cheap).
Why are we looking at appliances?
Because the nature and notion of appliance is changing to meet the needs of the convergence and standardization. Vendors are finding that in order to meet the demand (do more with less, and make it cost less), they have to go the route of mass-production and specialization; again, convergence of hardware and software. So, the specialized appliance is created.
What's coming in the BI space that will change our market?
A few things are headed our way. For instance why did Red Hat buy Meta Matrix? (the jury is still out on this one) Here's my opinion: they found a need to combine their specialized operating systems with highly complex data integration software in the EII space. What I'm really saying is that by combining their OS, with EII (gutting the EII, and rebuilding the best of breed) they are enabling their software for ready-made components with a web-interface control system, and data integration layers. If they want to take the cake, they can then put this combined set of software (in a couple years from now) on to a hardware platform, specialize the hardware platform to do "Features X, Y, Z" and a different hardware platform to produce features "P, Q, Râ and sell them as appliances. In reality, they need to compete with Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Teradata.
But where does that leave the rest of the integration space?
You'll begin to see it (already has started happening), IBM has acquired hardware and software vendors over the past several years, Oracle has acquired several large software vendors, HP has acquired consulting services, software vendors and already has the hardware under its belt. Microsoft has acquired software vendors, and has effective hardware partnerships in place. Teradata well - Teradata has continued to improve the quality of their existing solutions. Neteezza has entered the market space as an appliance and has done well; DatAllegro has built their business on the nature and notions of convergence and also has done well.
Where does this leave companies like Informatica, Composite Software, Ab-Initio, Ipedo, Silver Creek, X-Aware, Meta Integration, and others?
Directly in the line of sight either as an acquisition target, or for acquiring other software vendors, and to boot - developing partnerships with hardware companies to produce specialized appliances that cannot be purchased anywhere else.
SOA will become a specialized appliance driven world. To implement SOA and all that it entails will require the ease of use, plug-and-play appliances that talk to each other through networking. The size and scope of SOA at an enterprise level requires that we do more with less, and that we improve our quality, performance, and lower the maintenance costs. All of this screams Converged Specialized Appliances which operate off of web-interfaces for management.
Quite simply put:
* Ease of Use
* Improved Ability to be nimble
* Competitive nature
Data Integration technology will be created on an appliance basis in the future to get it out of the hands of the experts and in to the hands of the mass-population. Commoditization is important to innovation and moving forward. Convergence is one way to get there.
I'd love to hear what you think, please respond with your comments.
Posted May 3, 2007 5:58 AM
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