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Summary:

HP announced this morning that it has signed an agreement to acquire analytical database provider Vertica for an undisclosed amount, a decision that finally puts HP into the data warehouse market and analytics space that is becoming more important by the day.

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HP announced Monday morning that it has signed an agreement to acquire analytical database provider Vertica for an undisclosed amount, a decision that finally puts HP into the data warehouse market and analytics space that is becoming more important by the day. As data volumes proliferate and organizations are under increasing pressure to gain the most insights possible from that data — a situation often characterized as “big data” — HP needs a data story to tell to compete with server and storage vendors such as IBM, Oracle and EMC.

IBM and EMC have both armed themselves with analytics databases lately, buying Netezza and Greenplum, respectively. HP also now must compete with longtime partner Oracle, which became less dependent on HP hardware upon acquiring Sun Microsystems, and with which HP has been involved in litigation to some degree since Hurdgate last summer. Vertica’s massively parallel, columnar database technology, called the Vertica Analytics Platform, not only gives HP a dog in this fight, but actually gives it a very capable one. Vertica was developed by database guru Michael Stonebraker, touts a growing number of big-name customers and maintains partnerships with dozens of leading vendors, ranging from cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services to the Hadoop-focused Cloudera.

As I explained in a GigaOM Pro post in September, Vertica was among a handful of potential targets for large vendors looking to expand their database and analytics product lineups. Assuming the HP-Vertica deal closes, it will leave Dell out in the cold as the only major server and storage vendor without a database offering. I’ve suggested Dell remedy this by purchasing its OEM partner Aster Data Systems, whose massively parallel nCluster database software would give Dell a data warehouse product that can compete with IBM Netezza, EMC Greenplum and, now, HP Vertica.

With or without Dell’s participation, though, the trend is further proof that as servers and storage become less expensive and provide less differentiation, systems vendors are going to start competing at the database and/or data warehouse level so they can address the growing pain point that is big data. Everyone expected HP to get with the program at some point, it was just a matter of who it would buy. Now we know, and it’s officially game on.

To learn more about the data warehouse market and how large vendors are trying to evolve it to meet today’s data requirements, be sure to attend our Structure Big Data conference on March 23 in New York City, where scheduled speakers include HP/Vertica competitors EMC, IBM and ParAccel, among others.

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