A Data-Tinged Look Back at 2012

Each new year, this column looks back over the most significant data and database-related events of the previous year. Keeping in mind that this column is written before the year is over (in November 2012) to meet publication deadlines, let’s dive into the year that was in data.

The Acquisitions of 2012

As is common in the data and DBMS marketplace, the year saw its fair share of important data-related acquisitions.

Early in the year, IBM bought Emptoris, a cloud-based analytics provider, and Green Hat
a provider of software quality and testing solutions for the cloud and other environments. So the cloud was clearly on IBM’s mind in 2012. But IBM kept acquiring as the year progressed. During the second quarter the company made deals to acquire Varicent Software Incorporated (analytics software for compensation and sales performance management), Vivisimo (federated discovery and navigation for big data analysis), and Tealeaf Technology, Inc. (customer experience analytics software). All three of those acquisitions bolstered the IBM big data and analytics initiatives. In the third quarter IBM acquired Kenexa, a cloud-based service for recruiting and talent management. And IBM ended the year snapping up Butterfly Software to bolster it storage and backup/recovery capabilities.

What about Oracle, though? That never-stopping Energizer bunny of acquisition was busy in 2012, too. Oracle began the year by snapping up Taleo, a provider of cloud-based human capital and talent management offering. Things heated up, though, in the second quarter when Oracle agreed to acquire four additional companies: Vitrue (a cloud-based social marketing and engagement platform), Collective Intellect (a provider of cloud-based social intelligence solutions) ClearTrial (a provider of cloud-based Clinical Trial Operations and analytics products), and Involver (a San Francisco-based startup with a development platform for social media marketing campaigns). In the latter part of July, Oracle announced its intent to acquire the assets of Skire, a provider of capital program management and facilities management applications available on the cloud and on-premise. And then shortly thereafter, the company agreed to acquire Xsigo Systems, a provider of network virtualization technology. And finally, in the fourth quarter Oracle acquired Instantis (a provider of cloud-based and on-premise project portfolio management solutions) and SelectMinds (a provider of cloud-based social talent sourcing and alumni management applications).

Microsoft and SAP made a couple of interesting acquisitions, too. In late June, Microsoft announced its intent to acquire Yammer for $1.2 billion in cash. Yammer is an emerging enterprise social network provider and Microsoft is looking to incorporate it into its Office, Skype and cloud offerings. And in late May, SAP announced plans to acquire Ariba, Inc., a cloud-based business commerce network, for about $4.3 billion. And finally, during the third quarter, SAP closed on the acquisition of SuccessFactors, Inc., a provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions.

Clearly 2012 was all about the major data companies bolstering their cloud, analytics, Big Data, and social media capabilities via acquisition. I think it is safe to assume those same trends will continue in 2013.

Perhaps the most interesting acquisition of the year for DBAs, though, was Dell’s purchase of Quest Software. Announced in early July, Dell agreed to pay $28 a share for Quest, valuing the deal at $2.36 billion. It also brought a bidding war for Quest to an end – private equity firm Insight Venture Partners had earlier bid $23 per share for Quest… and later increased its offering to $25.75. The private equity firm was thought to have the inside track to acquire Quest because of its longstanding relationship with Quest chairman and CEO Vinny Smith. 

Quest, established in 1987, serviced more than 100,000 customers worldwide, including 87% of the Fortune 500. Quest’s portfolio included tools for Windows server management, identity and access management, and database administration and management. Many DBAs use Quest’s TOAD to provide a simple, consistent way to build, manage, and maintain databases.

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

The Technology of 2012

Over the course of the past year we saw the advancement of our DBMS technology, too. Microsoft unleashed SQL Server 2012 for general availability in March via a virtual launch event. This latest version of SQL Server brought many improvements spanning advanced analytics, performance and availability gains, and most significantly, cloud support with SQL Azure.

In April, IBM released DB2 10 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows (previously code-named Galileo). This version had been available on z/OS systems for over a year, but the distributed version of DB2 was brought up to speed to the same release level as the mainframe in 2012.

SAP made news with its in-memory database platform, HANA. Although most SAP customers rely on database software from Oracle or IBM to run SAP’s ERP applications, the company is working hard to increase its DBMS market share. The company is improving the capabilities of HANA using the technology it acquired when it bought Sybase in 2010. SAP has already ported its Business Suite to run on Sybase ASE, with HANA being touted as the analytics data store of the moment. And SAP announced the availability of its Business Warehouse platform running on HANA. 

And let’s not forget about Oracle. Even though Oracle Database 12c was not released for GA in 2012, the company unveiled some details about the release at its annual Open World conference. Larry Ellison promoted the new release as the world’s first multi-tenant database. He also drew attention to a feature called “pluggable databases,” which will enable multiple tenants to co-exist in the same database, simplifying database consolidation. Expectations are for Oracle Database 12c to be GA in 2013.


And, of course, there were the daily, weekly, and quarterly travails of quarterly results, lawsuits, and data analytics product announcements that we’ve all come to take with a grain of salt, too. But there is only so much room for my column so I had to cover just the highlights. Still, though, it was a busy year in the database world, wasn’t it?