Vertica CEO Chris Lynch Talks HP Acquisition, Fires Back at Netezza, IBM in “Big Data” Battle

3/28/11Follow @gthuang

Big data, schmig data. I know, you’re sick of it. Too bad.

Let’s get right to the trash talk, shall we? A few weeks ago, Netezza CEO Jim Baum (who’s now part of IBM) was telling me about the competitive landscape in “big data” analytics—the software and machinery that businesses are using these days to analyze increasingly huge amounts of data on customers, sales, logistics, and so forth.

While touting Netezza’s products, Baum dished on the shortcomings of other players in the sector like EMC/Greenplum, Oracle, and especially Hewlett-Packard, which acquired Billerica, MA-based Vertica in the data analytics arena last month. Baum pointed out some of HP’s recent struggles in data warehousing and business intelligence. He said the company has suffered “a tremendous brain drain” and that its “talent pool is gone.” He concluded that “HP has completely missed the boat” on big data analytics.

Vertica, whose acquisition by Palo Alto, CA-based HP (NYSE: HPQ) officially closed last week, would beg to differ. Chris Lynch, Vertica’s chief executive, started out by giving me a quip of his own about Netezza. “Their tag line is ‘The power to question everything,’” Lynch says. “So the first question is: why do they need proprietary hardware? The second question is: why are they using a database engine that’s based on technology from 1982?”

Netezza would probably dispute those assertions, but let’s hear Lynch out. In comparison to Vertica’s software-only “next generation architecture,” Lynch says, Netezza’s technology is “like taking an AMC Pacer and putting a turbocharger in it.” He also says Netezza faces “challenges architecturally” and, in its integration with IBM, will have to navigate the “politics of five competing databases” at Big Blue.

Lynch (see left) also defended his own house, pointing out (in response to Baum’s remark about HP’s talent) that Vertica hasn’t lost a single engineer during his year-long tenure or as a result of the acquisition. In that regard, he says, HP’s talent pool is quite strong, thank you very much. What’s more, Vertica is currently hiring top talent across sales, engineering, and product management, he says, and is looking to more than double the size of its Boston-area headquarters to more than 200 workers sometime later this year.

It also sounds like HP is letting Vertica run pretty autonomously, as its own … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • http://www.elasticube.com The ElastiCube Chronicles

    The exchange of lashes between Vertica and Netezza continue:

    http://tinyurl.com/NetezzaVertica

    The comments section is particularly interesting.