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Greenplum: EMC's Latest Plum?

In late July, EMC announced the acquisition of Greenplum, the company's entry into the data warehousing and analytics market. Greenplum uses a massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture and Scatter/Gather Streaming technologies to help computing keep up with ever larger data flows.

Hopefully, by now, skeptics of the Greenplum deal will have lost their deer-in-the-headlights look when trying to comprehend why EMC is moving into an unfamiliar space in the IT market. Understand that EMC is no longer simply a data storage vendor but an information infrastructure company with a strong storage foundation. The company's growth imperative, which is common to businesses that want to increase share price, cannot be provided through organic growth alone, but depends upon continued successful acquisitions. In general, to be a successful IT vendor giant requires the ability to manage a wide diversity of products and services and EMC has been very successful in branching out from its roots.

That explains why EMC is interested in acquisitions, but does not explain why the company is interested in data warehousing in general and Greenplum in particular. Data warehousing is a large market space that EMC tapped into previously, but only indirectly. The reason for acquiring Greenplum is that data warehousing requires specialized technology tools. Let's examine the data warehousing market first.

Data warehousing and associated analytics is now a large market with, to paraphrase McDonald's statement upon how many hamburgers it has sold, billion and billions to be made by the market as a whole. Why is that the case, especially since data warehousing was once a niche market?

A little history review may help to put things in perspective. Early IT departments called their work data processing, which was quite appropriate, since the combination of data with computing is essential. Later on, an attempt was made to upgrade the name and importance of the data processing organization by renaming it management information systems (MIS). However, early applications, such as payroll, accounts payable, and accounts receivable were really clerical information systems.

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