From Qlik’s acquisition of Podium Data in July 2018 through Salesforce’s purchase of Tableau Software in June 2019, the last year in BI has been characterized by a wave of consolidation.
Capped by Salesforce’s $15.7 billion acquisition of Tableau Software on June 10, 2019, and Google’s $2.6 billion purchase of Looker just four days earlier, the BI market over the last year has been marked by a wave of merger and acquisition activity.
“To survive, you’re going to have to reach some kind of scale,” said Rick Sherman, founder and managing partner of Athena IT Solutions, in a SearchBusinessAnalytics story in July 2019. “Small vendors are going to be bought or merge with more focused niche companies to build a more complete product.”
It was a little more than a decade ago that a similar wave of merger and activity reshaped the BI landscape, highlighted by IBM buying Cognos Analytics and SAP acquiring Business Objects.
After the flurry of deals in the spring ending with the premium Salesforce paid for Tableau, the pace of mergers and acquisition activity has slowed since the start of the summer, but more could be coming soon as more vendors with a specialized purpose seek partners with complementary capabilities in an attempt to keep pace with competitors that have already filled out their analytics stack.
Google’s acquisition of startup Elastifile underscored the increasing importance of enterprise-class file storage in the public cloud.
Major cloud providers have long offered block storage for applications that customers run on their compute services and focused on scale-out object storage for the massively growing volumes of colder unstructured data. Now they’re also shoring up file storage as enterprises look to shift more workloads to the cloud.
Google disclosed its intention to purchase Elastifile for an undisclosed sum after collaborating with the startup on a fully managed file storage service that launched early in 2019 on its cloud platform. At the time, Elastifile’s CEO, Erwan Menard, positioned the service as a complement to the Google Cloud Filestore, saying his company’s technology would provide higher performance, scale-out capacity and enterprise-grade features than the Google option.
In a blog post on the acquisition, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said the teams would join together to integrate the Elastifile technology with Google Cloud Filestore. Kurian wrote that Elastifile’s pioneering software-defined approach would address the challenges of file storage for enterprise-grade applications running at scale in the cloud.
“Google now has the opportunity to create hybrid cloud file services to connect the growing unstructured data at the edge or core data centers to the public cloud for processing,” said Julia Palmer, a vice president at Gartner. She said Google could have needed considerably more time to develop and perfect a scale-out file system if not for the Elastifile acquisition.
Building an enterprise-level, high-performance NFS file system from scratch is “insanely difficult,” said Scott Sinclair, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. He said Google had several months to “put Elastifile through its paces,” see that the technology looked good, and opt to buy rather than build the sort of file system that is “essential for the modern application environments that Google wants to sell into.”
Kurian cited examples of companies running SAP and developers building stateful container-based applications that require natively compatible file storage. He noted customers such as Appsbroker, eSilicon and Forbes that use the Elastifile Cloud File Service on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). In the case of eSilicon, the company bursts semiconductor design workflows to Google Cloud when it needs extra compute and storage capacity during peak times, Elastifile has said.
“The combination of Elastifile and Google Cloud will support bringing traditional workloads into GCP faster and simplify the management and scaling of data and compute intensive workloads,” Kurian wrote. “Furthermore, we believe this combination will empower businesses to build industry-specific, high performance applications that need petabyte-scale file storage more quickly and easily.”
Elastifile’s Israel-based engineering team spent four years developing the distributed Elastifile Cloud File System (ECFS). They designed ECFS for hybrid and public cloud use and banked on high-speed flash hardware to prevent metadata server bottlenecks and facilitate consistent performance.
Elastifile emerged from stealth in April 2017, claiming 25 customers, including 16 service providers. Target use cases it cited for ECFS included high-performance NAS, workload consolidation in virtualized environments, big data analytics, relational and NoSQL databases, high-performance computing, and the lift and shift of data and applications to the cloud. Elastifile raised $74 million over four funding rounds, including strategic investments from Dell Technologies, Cisco and Western Digital.
One open question is the degree to which Google will support Elastifile’s existing customers, especially those with hybrid cloud deployments that did not run on GCP. Both Google and Elastifile declined to respond.
Cloud NAS competition
The competitive landscape for the Elastifile Cloud File Service on GCP has included Amazon’s Elastic File System (EFS), Dell EMC’s Isilon on GCP, Microsoft’s Azure NetApp Files, and NetApp on GCP.
“Cloud NAS and cloud file systems are the last mile for cloud storage. Everybody does block. Everybody does object. NAS and file services were kind of an afterthought,” said Henry Baltazar, research director of storage at 451 Research.
But Baltazar said as more companies are thinking about moving their NFS-based legacy applications to the cloud, they don’t want to go through the pain and the cost of rewriting them for object storage or building a virtual file service. He sees Google’s acquisition of Elastifile as “a good sign for customers that more of these services will be available” for cloud NAS.
“Google doesn’t really make infrastructure acquisitions, so it says something that Google would make a deal like this,” Baltazar said. “It just shows that there’s a need.”
The potential Adobe acquisition of Marketo could unsettle the customer experience software market and give Adobe, which is mainly known for its B2C products, a substantial network of B2B customers from Marketo.
“It’s a trend that B2B customers are trying to become more consumer-based organizations,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director for 451 Research. “Marketo is maybe throwing in the towel in being a lead marketing vendor on its own.”
But, reportedly, talks between Adobe and Marketo’s holding company may not lead to a deal.
Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, said leaks could be coming from Vista Equity Partners Management, which bought Marketo in 2016 and took the company private, in the hopes of adding another bidder to the race to acquire Marketo.
“If people think Adobe would buy Marketo, maybe it would get SAP to think about it,” Wang said. “The question is, who needs marketing automation or email marketing? And when you think about the better fit at this moment, it’s SAP.”
When reached for comment, Adobe declined, adding that it does not comment on acquisition rumors or speculation.
Adobe expanding to B2B
Marketo said it had roughly 4,600 customers when it was acquired by Vista Equity. It’s unclear whether Adobe and Marketo have much overlap between customer bases, but there could be product overlap between the software vendors.
Sheryl Kingstoneresearch director, 451 Research
Adobe has its Marketing Cloud system, and both vendors offer basic martech features, like lead scoring, lead segmentation, web tracking, SMS marketing, personalized web content and predictive analytics. But an Adobe acquisition of Marketo would allow Adobe to expand into a wider B2B market, while allowing Marketo to offer its users the ability to market more like a B2C vendor using Adobe’s expertise.
“It’s a huge benefit for Marketo when you look at Adobe,” Kingstone said.
“Marketo has struggled in a B2B sense when its customers try to implement an ABM [account-based marketing] strategy,” she said.
Despite any potential overlap with its own products’ marketing capabilities, Adobe could find the chance to break into a pool of nearly 5,000 B2B customers compelling.
“There’s a lot of value in Marketo, and Adobe has been gun shy about entering B2B,” Wang said.
If the Adobe acquisition reports turn out to be accurate, it would amplify what has already been a busy year for the vendor. In May, Adobe acquired commerce platform Magento for a reported $1.7 billion.
A Reuters report about the Adobe acquisition of Marketo said likely prices will well exceed the $1.8 billion that Vista paid for Marketo when it took Marketo private.
Over the past few years, industry-leading companies in the CRM and customer experience spaces have sought to build alliances with other vendors.
Marketo has been one of the few major martech vendors without an alliance. Combining its technologies with Adobe’s creative suite and potentially Microsoft’s B2B breadth could make a significant imprint on the industry.
“If this is real, then it means Adobe has gotten serious about B2B,” Wang said.
Editor’s note: TechTarget offers ABM and project intelligence data and tools services.
LAS VEGAS — Amazon’s talent acquisition organization has more than 3,500 people, including 2,000 recruiters, and is very interested in testing out new technology. That is probably welcome news to vendors here at HR Tech 2018. But Amazon and other big HR technology users warned against being dazzled by vendors’ products and recommended following a disciplined and tough evaluation process.
“I think it’s important to stay abreast with what’s happening in the market,” said Kelly Cartwright, the head of recruiting transformation at Amazon. “I’m really, really passionate about doing experiments and pilots and seeing whether or not something can work,” she said, speaking on a talent acquisition technology panel at HR Tech 2018.
It’s important to “block out time and take those [vendor] calls and listen to what those vendors have to say because one of them actually might have a solution for you that can be a game changer,” Cartwright said.
A warning about new HR tech
But Cartwright also had a clear warning for attendees at the HR Tech 2018. It won’t help to make the investment in a new technology until “you really clarify” what it is you want to use it for, she said.
What has to happen first in investigating HR trends and new technologies is to “start with a clear problem that you’re trying to solve for,” Cartwright said. She illustrated her point with example questions: Is the problem improving diversity in the pipeline? Or is it ensuring that there are enough potential candidates visiting your recruiting website?
Endorsing this approach was Gail Blum, manager of talent acquisition operations at NBCUniversal, who appeared with Cartwright on the panel.
Blum said NBCUniversal may not always have the budget for a particular new HR technology, but vendors increasingly are offering free pilots. Companies can choose to take a particular problem “and see if that new tool or vendor has the ability to solve that,” she said.
New tech that doesn’t integrate is next to useless
Critical to any new HR technology is its ability to integrate with existing talent systems, such as an applicant tracking system, Blum said. She wants to know: Will the system have a separate log-in? “That’s always something that we ask upfront with all of these vendors.”
“If you are requiring everyone to have to go to two different systems the usage probably isn’t going to be great,” Blum said, who said that was their experience from some previous rollouts. If the systems don’t integrate, a new technology addition “isn’t really going to solve your problem in the end,” she said.
If Intel is going to partner with a talent vendor “it’s a long-term play,” said Allyn Bailey, talent acquisition capability adoption transformation leader at the chipmaker.
“We ask really invasive questions of the vendors,” Bailey said. “The vendors really hate it when we do it,” she said.
But Bailey said they will probe a vendor’s stability, their financing and whether they are positioning themselves to gather some big-name customers and then sell the business. “That freaks me out because my investment with that vendor is around that partnership to build a very customized solution to meet my needs,” she said.
TechTarget, the publisher of SearchHRSoftware, is a media partner for HR Tech 2018.
Cisco has announced the $2.35 billion acquisition of Duo Security, adding two-step authentication services to the networking company’s cloud-based security portfolio.
Cisco said this week it expects to close the cash deal by the end of October. Following the Duo acquisition, Cisco will make Duo part of its security business under its general manager and executive vice president, David Goeckeler. Duo, which has 700 employees, will remain at its Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters, and CEO Dug Song will continue to lead the company.
Under Cisco, Duo could grow much faster than it could on its own by gaining access to Cisco’s 800,000 customers. Duo, which was founded in 2009, has 12,000 customers.
Cisco wants to buy Duo to strengthen its cloud-based security services. Duo offers two-factor authentication that companies can integrate into websites, VPNs and cloud services. Duo services can also determine whether the user device trying to access the corporate asset poses a security risk.
The Duo acquistion adds another set of capabilities to those provided by Cisco’s other cloud-based security products, including OpenDNS and Stealthwatch Cloud. OpenDNS blocks malware, phishing attacks and botnets at the domain name system layer. Stealthwatch Cloud searches for threats by aggregating and analyzing telemetry drawn from public cloud infrastructures, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.
Cisco’s plans following Duo acquisition
During a conference call with reporters and analysts, Goeckeler said Cisco will sell Duo as a stand-alone product, while also integrating its services into some of Cisco’s other cloud-based services. He did not provide details or a timeline, but noted other cloud-based products that Cisco has combined with each other include OpenDNS, the Viptela SD-WAN and the cloud-managed Meraki wireless LAN.
“We think we can drive [more] integrations here,” Goeckeler said of Duo. He later added Duo could bring more value to Cisco Umbrella, a cloud-based service that searches for threats in internet activity.
“Duo is another asset we can combine together with Umbrella to just increase the value of that solution to our customers,” Goeckeler said.
Cisco has been growing its security business through acquisition since at least 2013, when it bought firewall provider Sourcefire for $2.7 billion. In 2015, Cisco acquired OpenDNS for $635 million, and it bought CloudLock a year later for $293 million. CloudLock provides secure access to cloud applications, including those running on platform-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service providers.
“All of these pieces are part of the larger strategy to build that integrated networking, security and identity cloud-delivered platform,” Goeckeler said.
Cisco’s acquisitions have fueled much of the growth in its security business. In the quarter ended in April, Cisco reported an 11% increase in security revenue to $583 million.
Qlik is buying startup Podium Data. The Qlik-Podium acquisition gives the self-service BI and data visualization software vendor new data management technology to boost its enterprise strategy and its ability to compete with archrival Tableau.
As part of the Qlik-Podium deal, Podium Data will move all 30 of its employees — including the co-founders and management team — from its Lowell, Mass., headquarters to Qlik’s regional office in Newton, Mass. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Podium will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Qlik and operate as a separate business unit, though with tighter connections to the Qlik platform to provide expanded BI data management capabilities, according to Drew Clarke, senior vice president of strategy management at Qlik.
Podium’s namesake technology, which automates data ingestion, validation, curation and preparation, will remain open and able to integrate with other vendors’ BI and analytics platforms, Podium CEO Paul Barth said.
Qlik on the rebound?
The Qlik-Podium purchase is part of Qlik’s effort to rebound from business problems that led to it being bought and taken by private equity firm Thoma Bravo in 2016. Multiple rounds of layoffs and a management change ensued, and Qlik lagged somewhat behind both Tableau and Microsoft Power BI in marketing and product development.
“It’s part of an acceleration of our vision,” Clarke said of the acquisition in a joint interview with Barth at the Newton office. “When we looked at what’s going on in big data in terms of volume of data and the management of that and making it accessible and analytics-ready, we felt that the Podium data solution was a great fit.”
While Clarke maintained that Qlik has been “enterprise-class” rather than department-oriented for some time, he also said Podium’s data management technology gives Qlik the ability to scale up and manage larger volumes of data.
Clarke said Podium’s technology is complementary to Qlik’s Associative Big Data Index, a system expected to be released later this year — that will index the data in Hadoop clusters and other big data platforms for faster access by Qlik users. “Podium can be used to prepare data files, which supports the Associative Big Data Index creating its indexes and other files,” he said.
How the sale came about
Barth said that after emerging as a startup more than four years ago, Podium was mulling another round of investment in January. The company started talking to investors and “strategic technology companies” and connected with Qlik, he added.
Podium fits into Qlik’s business strategy to provide data, a platform and analytics tools in the role of the data component, Barth said, “and we’re going to work with them on the platform piece to deploy this both on premises and in the cloud.”
For now, Podium is keeping its name, “but more information will be coming” about that within the year, including the possibility of a new name, Clarke said.
With Podium, Qlik broadens scope
Tableau released a data preparation tool for use with its BI software in April. But buying Podium enables Qlik to establish a complete data management and analytics platform in conjunction with its Qlik Sense software and improves the company’s ability to compete with Tableau, said Donald Farmer, principal of analytics consulting firm TreeHive Strategy and a former Qlik executive.
Donald Farmerprincipal, TreeHive Strategy
“This is a good acquisition for Qlik,” Farmer said. “In terms of competition, this more complete platform enables them to position effectively in a broader space than, say, Tableau.”
Farmer said the Qlik-Podium acquisition also makes Qlik more resemble companies in the enterprise BI space like Tibco and Microsoft that offer end-to-end self-service data management, including software for acquiring, cleansing and curating data, plus analytics and collaboration tools.
“Together with announcements that Qlik made at their Qonnections conference in May about machine learning and big data analytics, this is part of a trend of Qlik expanding their scope,” Farmer said.
Qlik gets data lake capabilities
Podium often is associated with managing data lake environments that feed big data applications, although it says its platform can handle all types of enterprise data. The Podium architecture is built on top of Hadoop, which Barth said makes the technology less expensive for enterprises running tens of thousands of processing jobs a night.
David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research, said he was surprised at the Qlik-Podium acquisition announcement.
In part, that’s “because Qlik has not been particularly strong in the data lake market because of their in-memory architecture, but Podium is largely focused on data lakes or big data implementations,” Menninger said.
Nonetheless, Menninger said he sees some positive potential for the deal for Qlik and its users.
“As analytics vendors add more data preparation capabilities, Podium Data’s capabilities can significantly enhance the value of data processed using Qlik,” he said.
The Salesforce Datorama acquisition is expected to enhance the Salesforce Marketing Cloud system and better compete with Adobe — the CRM software vendor’s main competitor in the marketing space.
The Salesforce Datorama acquisition marks the fourth purchase for the vendor this year, following its acquisitions of Attic Labs, CloudCraze and MuleSoft. The cost of buying Datorama, according to reports, was about $800 million.
Datorama uses AI and machine learning to provide marketing intelligence and analytics to help organizations identify which campaigns work best and what the next best marketing tactic should be. Salesforce appears to be looking to the Israel-based company’s technology to bolster its Einstein AI-backed business intelligence software.
The move will strengthen Salesforce’s portfolio in marketing and analytics, said Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research.
“Datorama looks at every piece of analytics around the campaign to figure out why one was more successful than another. Salesforce has been building out its Marketing Cloud and [has] been doing specific acquisitions to bolster its marketing and ad-tech capabilities,” Wang said.
Not all observers think the Salesforce Datorama acquisition was the best move to help with marketing analytics.
Datorama customers have used the product more for reporting, rather than analytics, according to Tina Moffett, senior analyst at Forrester Research.
“Datorama’s strong suit is in its ability to connect disparate data sources — from Facebook and ad servers and email providers — into one central system, and it uses AI to do that,” Moffett said. “A lot of the organizations that we’ve talked to use Datorama as a central reporting and dashboard tool.”
I’m thrilled to welcome @Datorama to the salesforce family. The best of both worlds: Analytics and Marketing. The Datorama platform allows marketers to easily connect separate sources of critical platform data to create incredible insights. See it at @Dreamforce! pic.twitter.com/HcXG7Eg2O8
Ray Wangprincipal analyst and founder of Constellation Research
Salesforce has been visibly working to improve Marketing Cloud and has done so mainly through acquisitions.
That campaign started with acquiring ExactTarget in 2013 and turning it into the core Marketing Cloud system. Salesforce then bought Krux in 2016 to improve Marketing Cloud’s data management capabilities and soon renamed Krux to Salesforce DMP.
Salesforce’s acquisition of Datorama AI marketing software fits the same theme, but the purchase may have surprised some.
“Salesforce’s [approach] is to build capabilities through acquisitions,” Moffett said. “For them to focus on marketing performance measurement and then acquire a company wasn’t that big of a shock. I think what was a big of a surprise was that it was Datorama.”
Surprise or not, Salesforce appears to have big plans for Datorama.
“Salesforce’s acquisition of Datorama will enhance Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud with expanded data integration, intelligence and analytics, enabling marketers to unlock insights across Salesforce data and the myriad of technologies used in today’s marketing and consumer engagement ecosystem,” Ran Sarig, Datorama CEO and co-founder, wrote in a blog post.
Meanwhile, Wang said he could see the Salesforce Datorama acquisition laying the groundwork for another Salesforce product: an advertising cloud.
“When you see this acquisition, you have to think the next thing for Salesforce is ad tech,” Wang said.
Salesforce sets sights on Adobe
Salesforce’s focus on strengthening Marketing Cloud also is apparently aimed at Adobe — another marketing software giant.
The two software goliaths have battled fiercely in recent years, and the Salesforce Datorama acquisition should be viewed in the context of that technological arms race, Wang said.
“From a Marketing Cloud perspective, it’s Salesforce and Google versus Microsoft and Adobe, and that’s what people need to recognize when considering their investments,” he said.
The big tech leaders all are trying to make it easier for organizations to connect the dozens of marketing tools that most large enterprises use.
“The bigger issue is the fact that most organizations run 40 to 50 martech solutions and want to know how to consolidate [their data],” Wang said. “Everyone is looking for one vendor to make this easier, and the integrations that Datorama has are important and allow you to connect those different pieces.”
Slack plans to use the technology gained from its acquisition of Missions, a division of the startup Robots & Pencils, to make it easier for non-developers to customize workflows and integrations within its team collaboration app.
A Slack user with no coding knowledge can use Missions to build widgets for getting more work done within the Slack interface. For example, a human resources department could use a Missions widget to track and approve interviews with job applicants.
The Missions tool could also power an employee help desk system within Slack, or be used to create an onboarding bot that keeps new hires abreast of the documents they need to sign and the orientations they must attend.
“In the same way that code libraries make it easier to program, Slack is trying to make workflows easier for everyone in the enterprise,” said Wayne Kurtzman, an analyst at IDC. “Without training, users will be able to create their own automated workflows and integrate with other applications.”
Slack said it would take a few months to add Missions to its platform. It will support existing Missions customers for free during that time. In a note to its 200,000 active developers, Slack said the Missions purchase would benefit them too, by making it easier to connect their Slack integrations to other apps.
Slack integrations help startup retain market leadership
Earlier this year, Slack introduced a shortcut that lets users send information from Slack to business platforms like Zendesk and HubSpot. Slack could be used to create a Zendesk ticket asking the IT department for a new desktop monitor, for example.
The automation of workflows, including through chatbots, is becoming increasingly important to enterprise technology buyers, according to Alan Lepofsky, an analyst at Constellation Research, based in Cupertino, Calif.
But it remains to be seen whether the average Slack user with no coding experience will take advantage of the Missions tool to build Slack integrations.
“I believe the hurdle in having regular knowledge workers create them is not skill, but rather even knowing that they can, or that they should,” Lepofsky said.
While DataDirect Networks awaits the outcome of its proposed acquisition of Tintri assets, Tintri customers wonder what it all means for them.
High-performance computing (HPC) storage specialist DataDirect Networks (DDN) believes the Tintri acquisition is a way to appeal to mainstream enterprise IT shops. DDN made a bid to acquire Tintri’s assets for an undisclosed sum after Tintri filed for bankruptcy in early July — barely a year after going public on the Nasdaq.
DDN sees a way to broaden its appeal with Tintri’s flash-based, analytics-driven storage arrays, but the acquisition isn’t yet certain. The two vendors have signed a letter of intent, but the proposed sale won’t be finalized until the completion of a court-ordered bidding process. That means bidders could emerge to challenge DDN.
Users react to planned Tintri acquisition
The uncertainly of the Tintri acquisition affects its customers, who remain unsure of what it means for their maintenance contracts. DDN declined to estimate how long the bidding process might take.
That leaves Tintri customers bracing for what comes next. The city of Lewiston, Idaho, used Tintri arrays to replace legacy storage. Systems administrator Danny Santiago said the hybrid storage was a “magic cure-all” for labor-intensive management. Lewiston’s storage includes a Tintri T620 and two T820 hybrid arrays for primary storage, backup and replication.
“I spent about half my day fighting LUN management. When we got the Tintri, I got that time back,” Santiago said. “I can go six months and never have to touch the Tintri storage. The interface is beautiful. It gives you metrics to let you know if a problem is [tied to] storage, the network or on the Windows OS side.”
Now, Santiago said he doesn’t know what to expect. His agency is in year one of an extended three-year Tintri support contract for the T620.
“Financially, we’re not in a position to change our storage,” he said. “We put a lot of money into these Tintri boxes, and we need to get the life expectancy out of them.”
The Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas installed Tintri several years ago to replace aging EMC Clariion storage — the forerunner to the Dell EMC VNX SAN array. Scott Zemke, the Fayetteville, Ark., school’s director of technology, said Tintri competitors have already started knocking on his door.
“Quite honestly, we rarely have issues with the Tintri arrays. But, of course, we’re looking at contingency plans if we have to do a refresh. One vendor is offering ridiculously stupid deals to trade in our Tintri storage, so it will be an interesting next couple of months,” Zemke said.
“I know Tintri really wanted the business to work, but it seems like they have just had management problem after management problem. Hopefully, DDN will continue to support the stuff. We have DDN arrays in our HPC data center, and they’re a great company to work with, too,” Zemke said.
Is predictive analytics key to Tintri acquisition?
According to Tintri’s securities filings, DDN’s bid would encompass most of Tintri’s assets, including all-flash and hybrid virtualization arrays. But the predictive Tintri Analytics platform may have a greater impact on DDN’s business. The SaaS-based data lake provides real-time analytics and preventive maintenance. Customers can automate capacity and performance requirements for each virtual machine.
Predictive analytics is considered a valuable feature for modern storage arrays. Hewlett Packard Enterprise considered Nimble Storage’s InfoSight analytics a key driver of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Nimble in 2017, and HPE has since integrated InfoSight into its flagship 3PAR arrays. DDN could follow the same playbook by incorporating Tintri Analytics into its other products.
Danny Santiagosystem administrator for the city of Lewiston, Idaho
Tintri’s technology would help DDN serve mainstream enterprises seeking to implement AI and machine learning, said Kurt Kuckein, senior director of marketing at DDN, based in Chatsworth, Calif.
“We have plenty of organizations where we work with data scientists or the analytics team, but we really haven’t had a product for enterprise IT shops. Adding Tintri gives us a well-baked technology and a large installed base,” Kuckein said.
In the near term, DDN plans to maintain the Tintri brand as a separate engineering division. Real-time Tintri analytics eventually could wind up in branded AI ExaScaler turnkey appliances, he said.
Tintri Analytics is part of the Tintri Global Center management portal. The intelligence can predict hardware failures and automate support tickets. Tintri typically shipped replacement parts to customers by the next business day.
According to George Crump, president of IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, Tintri’s analytics are “as good, if not better,” than Nimble’s InfoSight.
“DDN is probably the perfect acquirer for Tintri,” Crump said. “It’s profitable. It has a massive amount of storage experience. And there’s almost no overlap between the DDN and Tintri product. All the Tintri stuff would be net-new business.”
Will DDN breathe new life into Tintri storage?
The proposed Tintri acquisition follows a rocky period for the vendor. Tintri filed for Chapter 11 protection this month — just weeks after the one-year anniversary of its initial public offering (IPO). Some experts saw going public as a desperation move after Tintri failed to secure additional private investment. Tintri also went through two CEOs between April and June.
Tintri initially hoped for a share price in the range of $11.50 to raise about $109 million in June 2017, but its IPO opened at $7 and raised only $60 million. Shares rose no higher than $7.75, and Nasdaq eventually delisted Tintri after its shares dropped to below $1 for 30 consecutive trading sessions.
Aside from investors’ lukewarm reception, several strategic missteps conspired to doom Tintri. Crump said the company undercut its key differentiators of analytics and quality of service (QoS) when it launched an all-flash array in 2015.
“Tintri’s marketing message should have been, ‘Don’t buy an all-flash array, and here’s why,'” Crump said. “DDN should get rid of the all-flash model and just focus on selling the hybrid arrays. When your system is faster than all of your workloads combined, then you don’t really need QoS. That would get people’s attention.”
The out-of-the-blue Broadcom acquisition of CA Technologies has analysts scratching their heads about how the two companies’ diverse portfolios weave together strategically, and how customers might feel the impacts — beneficial or otherwise.
CA’s strength in mainframe and enterprise infrastructure software, the latter of which is a growing but fragmented market, gives chipmaker Broadcom another building block to create an across-the-board infrastructure technology company, stated Hock Tan, president and CEO of Broadcom.
But vaguely worded statements from both companies’ execs lent little insight into potential synergies and strategic short- or long-term goals of the $18.9 billion deal.
One analyst believes the deal is driven primarily by financial and operational incentives, and whatever technology synergies the two companies create are a secondary consideration for now.
“The operating margins from mainframes are very healthy and that fits very well with Broadcom’s financial model,” said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC.
The bigger issue will be Broadcom’s ability to manage the diverse software portfolio of a company the size of CA. To date, Broadcom’s acquisition strategy has focused almost exclusively on massive deals for hardware companies, in areas such as storage, wireless LAN and networking. “The question is, is this too far of a reach for them? Customers are going to have to watch this closely,” Elliot said.
The overall track record of acquisitions that combine hardware-focused companies and large software companies is not good, Elliot noted. He pointed to the failures of Intel’s acquisition of LANDesk and Symantec’s purchase of Veritas.
Broadcom’s ability to manage CA’s complex and interwoven product portfolio is another concern.
Stephen Elliotanalyst, IDC
“As far as I can see, Broadcom has little or no visible prior execution or knowledge about a complicated and nuanced software and technology arena such as the one CA addresses … that includes DevOps, agile and security,” said Melinda Ballou, research director for IDC’s application life-cycle management program. “Infrastructure management would be more in their line of work, but still very different.”
Broadcom’s acquisition of CA also fills a need to diversify, particularly in the aftermath of its failed attempt to buy Qualcomm earlier this year, which was blocked by the Trump administration for national security reasons.
“They need to diversify their offerings to be more competitive given they primarily focus on chips, networking and the hardware space,” said Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates LLC. “CA has done a lot of work on the operational and analytics side, so maybe [Broadcom] is looking at that as a springboard into the software enablement space.”
Hurwitz does see opportunities for both companies to combine their respective products, particularly in network management and IoT security. And perhaps this deal portends more acquisitions will follow, potentially among companies that compete directly or indirectly with CA. Both Broadcom and CA have pursued growth through numerous acquisitions in recent years.
“You could anticipate Broadcom goes on a spending spree, going after other companies that are adjacent to what CA does,” Hurwitz said. “For example, there was talk earlier this year that CA and BMC would merge, so BMC could be a logical step with some synergy there.”