HP follows IBM

With its planned acquisition of Vertica, Hewlett-Packard Co. continues its move to build out a professional services portfolio in analytics and appears to be following the route of IBM Corp. but it will be some time before it can become a “serious software vendor” in business intelligence, said one analyst.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company this week revealed plans to purchase Billerica, Mass.-based Vertica.

“I would not be surprised if they followed in the footsteps of IBM,” said Dan Vesset, program vice-president of IDC Corp.’s business analytics research. The Armonk, New York-vendor has made a few acquisitions in the business intelligence space in the past several years including Cognos.
Vesset said that HP, at this point, can take one of several directions into business intelligence, data integration or analytic applications. But IBM already has a significant lead with its DB2 database, its data warehouse technology built atop DB2, and its acquisition last September of data warehousing vendor Netezza Corp.

He added that HP and IBM aren’t the only ones going this way: EMC Corp. recently acquired GreenPlum, a competitor to Vertica.

HP decided in January that it would stop actively selling its data warehousing offering, Neoview, after four years of trying to make the product successful. Now, the company is taking another shot with Vertica. “It’s different times and they’re trying again,” said Vesset.

According to Michelle Warren, president of Toronto-based MW Research & Consulting, Vertica gives HP a popular platform around which are positioned many strategic partners. Moreover, added Warren, “I think it’s probably a better fit for HP than Neoview was. It’s more strategic.”
At the time that HP announced it would discontinue Neoview, it teamed up with Microsoft Corp. on several hardware and software combination offerings including a data warehouse appliance. “This is a bit of an extension, I would say,” said Warren, referring to Vertica.


The decision by HP’s CEO, Leo Apotheker, to buy Vertica is likely some residual interest for business intelligence stemming from his former stint as CEO of SAP AG. But while HP has made a commitment to building out its software portfolio, Warren said there wasn’t really a clear strategy before Apotheker. “With (Apotheker), it’s just pushing it forward,” said Warren.

Warren expects Apotheker to outline more of HP’s direction in business intelligence very soon and that the company will continue buying vendors in this space rather than building from scratch.

The transaction to acquire Vertica should close in April.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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