Andy on Enterprise Software

The Teradata Universe

April 23, 2015

The Teradata Universe conference in Amsterdam in April 2015 was particularly popular, with a record 1,200 attendees this year. Teradata always scores unusually high in our customer satisfaction surveys, and a recurring theme is its ease of maintenance compared to other databases. At this conference the main announcement continued this theme with the expansion of its QueryGrid, allowing a common administrative platform across a range of technologies. QueryGrid can now manage all three major Hadoop implementations, MapR, Cloudera and HortonWorks, as well as its own Aster and Teradata platforms. In addition the company announced a new appliance, the high-end 2800, as well as a new feature they call the software-defined warehouse. This allows multiple Teradata data warehouses to be managed as one logical warehouse, including allow security management across multiple instances.

The conference had its usual heavy line-up of customer project implementation stories, such as an interesting one by Volvo, who are doing some innovative work with software in their cars, at least in the prototype stage. For example in one case the car sends signals to any cyclists with a suitably equipped helmet, using a proximity alert. In another example the car can seek out spare parking spaces in a suitably equipped car park. A Volvo now has 150 computers in it, generating a lot of data that has to be managed as well as creating new opportunities. Tesla is perhaps the most extreme example so far of cars becoming software-drive, in their case literally allowing remote software upgrades in the same way that occur with desktop computers (though hopefully car manufacturers will do a tad more testing than Microsoft in this regard). The most entertaining speech thatI saw was by a Swedish academic, Hans Rosling, who advises UNICEF and the WHO and who gave a brilliant talk about the world’s population trends using extremely advanced visualisation aids, an excellent example of how to display big data in a meaningful way.

The Private Side of Informatica

April 8, 2015

Yesterday Informatica announced that it was being bought, not by a software firm but by a private equity company Permira. At £5.3 billion, this values the data integration vendor at over five times the billion dollar revenue that Informatica saw in 2014, compared to an industry average of 4.4 recently. This piece of financial engineering will not change the operational strategy for Informatica. Rather it is a reflection of a time when capital is plentiful and private equity firms are feeling bullish about the software sector. Tibco and Dell have followed a similar route. Company managers will not have to worry about quarterly earnings briefings to pesky financial analysts, and will instead be accountable only to their new owners. However, private equity firms seek a return on their investment, usually leveraging plenty of debt into such deals (debt is tax efficient compared to equity), and can be demanding of their acquisitions. From a customer viewpoint there is little to be concerned about. One exit for the investors will be a future trade sale or return to the stock market, so this deal does not in itself change the picture for Informatica in terms of possible acquisition by a bigger software company one day.