HP mates Autonomy with Vertica

HP has wrapped Autonomy's technology around its Vertica data analytics to create Idol 10, a structured and unstructured analysis engine, and announced three bespoke Autonomy appliances
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

HP is combining technology from Autonomy and Vertica for data analysis, along with a series of bespoke Autonomy appliances, in the first results of its acquisition of the Cambridge-based software company.

The data-analysis tool, the Autonomy Intelligent Data Operating Layer (Idol) 10, was announced on Tuesday at HP Discover in Vienna. The technology analyses unstructured and structured data in one platform, and will compete with enterprise incumbents, such as Oracle, and nascent open-source technologies like Hadoop in the market for exploiting large data sets. 

"What we've done is we've taken Vertica and taken Autonomy Idol and we've put them together," Autonomy's chief executive, Mike Lynch, said in a press briefing announcing the product. "For the first time there is one building block that can handle 100 percent of the information. From now on you can build apps that natively throw around structured and unstructured information as one item together."

"Vertica works on database information, Autonomy fundamentally works on information that is in a human form and it extracts what that means," said Lynch.

By combining the two systems — Vertica for structured data such as tables and databases, and Autonomy for unstructured data, such as phone calls, social media and videos — Lynch said HP has created a tool that allows companies to "automatically process, understand and act on 100 percent of their data, in real time".

From now on you can build apps that natively throw around structured and unstructured information as one item together.
– Mike Lynch, Autonomy

Autonomy has a large presence in the enterprise: 400 original equipment makers (OEMs) across the world use and, in some cases, integrate its technology with their own, Lynch said. Finance is one of the company's most important sectors, with companies frequently either using the technology wholesale or pairing it with its own in-house technology, ZDNet UK understands.

HP acquired Vertica in February and Autonomy in August. HP was able to merge the two technologies together so quickly thanks to the way Autonomy's Idol project is structured, Lynch said.

"Idol is an engine designed to be bolted onto the wing of an aircraft," he said. "Almost any technology company in the world has some Autonomy technology inside it... there was a lot of thinking about this before things got going."

HP had an OEM relationship with Autonomy, so was familiar with its technology, which made it easier to combine the two companies' processes, he said.

Pricing was not available at the time of writing. Idol 10 will become available worldwide on Thursday.

Closed and open-source competition

Idol 10 will compete with Oracle's stable of database technologies and the open-source Hadoop project. The latter allows enterprises to analyse unstructured data, while Oracle makes its money from databases geared towards structured data with Hadoop plug-ins.

Lynch was bullish about Autonomy's chances, arguing that Hadoop's approach — which Oracle uses via the Hadoop connector — to unstructured data is not as good as Autonomy's.

"Hadoop is starting to work, we can operate with Hadoop [but] we don't need it — can do without it," he said in a press briefing on Tuesday. "What you haven't seen from the open-source community is really fundamental human information processing — that's very mathematical."

"Sometimes people don't realise the limitations of the open-source method," said Lynch. Autonomy uses Bayesian inference — a mathematical method based around statistical analysis and assumption — that's not used by most start-ups due to a lack of technical sophistication, he said. 

Autonomy hardware

As part of its strategy of building products that integrate software and hardware together, HP announced three Autonomy appliances.

"[HP] allows us to create a set of appliances," Lynch said. "You're going to see these technologies start to appear across all IT sectors and all industries."

The Archiving Appliance, eDiscovery Appliance and Enterprise Search Appliance all combine HP ProLiant servers with HP storage and networking and Autonomy's Idol software. They are designed to be easy to operate and Idol will automatically index and analyse an enterprise's structured and unstructured data.

The appliances use the Autonomy Digital Safe private cloud to store data. Autonomy gained some of the assets for its cloud from the purchase of technology from Iron Mountain in May.

The Archiving Appliance automatically finds, stores, deduplicates and puts out metadata from unstructured data like audio, video and social media. The eDiscovery Appliance is for legal casework and has a special dashboard to help investigators track pertinent case information. The Enterprise Search Appliance is broadly similar to the Google Search Appliance, although it categorises and analyses the discovered data according to Autonomy's Bayesian approach rather than Google's peer-link model.

The appliances should be available in the first quarter of 2012, HP said.

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