Key Developments in Big Data, Data Management, and New Tech in 2014

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2014 was a busy year in data. The big data drumbeat continued to pound, major DBMS vendors expanded their product offerings, Microsoft hired a new CEO, and a range of new technology was introduced.

With 2015 just beginning to unfold, let’s take a look back at some of the significant data and database-related events of the previous year. Here is a look back at the data year that was.  

The Big Data Tsunami

Big data has been a constant meme in the database marketplace this past year. The general idea is that the volume, variety and velocity of data continues to increase dramatically … and that analytics performed on such data can provide valuable insight to improve business planning and execution.

As such, during 2014 there have been quite a few announcements and new product offerings in the BI, analytics and NoSQL database areas. Expect this trend to continue, and even quicken, in 2015. Furthermore, expect to see the big DBMS vendors (IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and SAP) expand their offerings in these areas, as well as extend their market-leading relational products to support additional NoSQL capabilities.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures in 2014

As is common in the data and DBMS marketplace, 2014 saw its fair share of important data-related acquisitions. IBM was quite active, starting the year by divesting itself of its low-end server business by selling its System x, BladeCenter and Flex System blade servers and switches, and other low-end servers and related software to Lenovo. Of course, IBM is still in the hardware business, as it retained its System z mainframes, Power SystemsStorage SystemsPower-based Flex servers, and PureApplication and PureData appliances.

IBM acquired quite a bit of technology in 2014, too. Perhaps its biggest acquisition came in late February when IBM agreed to acquire Cloudant, Inc., a privately held database-as-a-service (DBaaS) provider. Cloudant complements IBM’s big data and analytics portfolio beyond traditional data management by providing DBaaS capabilities that enable clients to simplify and accelerate the development of scalable mobile and web apps.

Additionally, in 2014 IBM acquired Silverpop (cloud-based marketing automation and customer engagement solutions), CrossIdeas (security software for on-premise and cloud environments), and Lighthouse Security Group (cloud security services). Clearly, IBM made strides in improving its cloud and security offerings with the acquisitions it made in 2014.

Oracle was busy, too. Late in 2013, Oracle announced agreed to acquire Responsys, Inc., a provider of enterprise-scale cloud-based B2C marketing software. The addition of Responsys extends Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud.

Other acquisitions made by Oracle in 2014 include acquire BlueKai (cloud-based big data platform for consumer data), Corente (software-defined networking technology for WANs), GreenBytes, (storage solution for deduplication, replication, and virtualization), LiveLOOK (cloud-based collaboration software), MICROS Systems (cloud solutions for hospitality and retail industries), TOA Technologies (cloud-based field service solutions), and Front Porch Digital (storage management). So Oracle’s focus in 2014 was to expand its cloud offerings, but with a focus on applications and storage.

Microsoft played the acquisition game this past year, too. In early January Microsoft to acquire Parature, a provider of cloud-based customer engagement solutions, enabling the company to add customer self-service capabilities to its Microsoft Dynamics family.

Additional acquisitions made by Microsoft in 2014 include GreenButton (complex computing in the cloud), Capptain (mobile customer and employee analytics), InMage (cloud-based business continuity), Aorato (enterprise security), and Acompli (mobile email applications). So, Microsoft continued the trend of cloud and analytics-based acquisitions.

All in all, it was a very busy year in terms of acquisitions and consolidation in the database industry.

Microsoft’s New CEO

2014 also marks the year that Microsoft hired a new CEO. Steve Ballmer stepped down in February, and Microsoft appointed Satya Nadella as CEO and member of the board of Directors. Nadella previously held the position of executive vice president of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise group.

Microsoft also announced that Bill Gates, previously chairman of the board of directors, was assuming a new role on the board as founder and technology advisor. This move enables Gates to devote more time to the company and to support Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. In his email to Microsoft employees on his first day as CEO, Nadella claimed that “This is a software-powered world.” He further said “I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient.”

It will be interesting to watch Microsoft transform itself under with Nadella at the helm.

The Technology of 2014

And last, but not least, there was a lot of new technology announced and released in 2014. Let’s take a quick look at some of it.

As an example of new and improved relational software, Microsoft released SQL Server 2014 in April. The new version of SQL Server boasts many improvements such as in-memory and cloud capabilities, improved AlwaysOn Availability, updateable column store indexes, and backup enhancements among others.

On the NoSQL front, Oracle announced its Oracle NoSQL Database 3.0 in April. This latest release of Oracle’s distributed key/value database, delivers simplified development capabilities, with greater security and availability for real-time, web-scale, workloads.

And, as an example of new cloud offerings, IBM delivered DataWorks (a cloud-based data refinery), dashDB (a cloud-based data warehousing and analytics service), and Cloudant Local (an on-premise edition of the fully managed cloud database-as-a-service).

And for SAP in 2014 it was all about the continued uptake of HANA, their in-memory database system. More applications rolled out and more users deployed HANA last year bringing SAP more visibility as a major DBMS player in the market.

Of course, this is just a sampling of the new technology introduced or augmented in 2014.

2014 - a Busy Year in the Database World

We’ve just hit on the highlights of the year in this review. There were certainly many more data-related headlines that were made during 2014, including the ups and downs of quarterly results, lawsuits, and new product announcements. But there is only so much room for my column so I just focused on the highlights. Still, though, it was a busy year in the database world, wasn’t it?

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