Is HP too late in entering the big data race?

HP has ramped up efforts in big data by bringing out some heavy infrastructure offerings, but even that may not be enough to compete with some of its competitors, according to IBRS analyst Jorn Bettin.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

HP is making a big push into the big data arena, but is the vendor a little bit late in entering the game?

The company flagged its intentions to target the big data space with the announcement of its HAVEn platform in Vegas earlier this month, which combines the HP's analytics software, hardware, and services capabilities for a full-blown big data offering.

HAVEn stands for Hadoop, Autonomy, Vertica, and Enterprise Security, represented by Arcsight, with the "n" representing apps built on this platform.

At HP World Tour in Beijing this week, HP reiterated its interest in big data to its Asia-Pacific market. The vendor emphasised its expertise in storage hardware as a one-up on its competitors. It also launched a new consultancy service specifically for big data analytics implementation.

IBRS analyst Jorn Bettin noted that HP's big data offerings are very much focused on infrastructure. The vendor is flogging everything from servers to software tools, to store and crunch big data.

"Apparently, HP sees the big data hype as an opportunity to sell more infrastructure into their client base together, of course, with corresponding services to get the infrastructure up and running," he told ZDNet. "However, from a client perspective, big data is all about combining different data sources in new ways, to use machine learning and advanced analytical techniques to generate new insights and then apply them creatively to things like customer experience and operational performance.

"It's in this area that I fail to see substance in HP's big data offering."

Bettin believes that HP is able to sell clients very powerful big data infrastructure assets, but leaves them to figure out what to do with the new assets. Hardly any company has the appropriate in-house expertise to decipher the insights gleaned through processing a bunch of large datasets.

Also, Hadoop is an open-source technology, and HP has actually partnered with some Hadoop distribution providers to deliver related services, so customers are not limited to using the vendor.

"The HP big data offering is a wrapper that combines the partnership with big data software vendors with its core IT infrastructure offerings, including servers, networks, and related management software," Bettin said.

The vendor's offering is best suited for customers that have the need to set up or upgrade their existing infrastructure — but for those that don't, HP can't compete with other players in the big data space, he said.

HP COO Bill Veghte disagrees.

"The problem that exists in the marketplace is that each vertically integrated vendor has to curate their dataset, and it is usually the minority of data that exists in an enterprise, such as machine-to-machine, business data, and human information," he said at HP World Tour. "As a business person, what I really want to take is a pool of that information and actually translate that into actual insight."

That's what HAVEn can do, according to Veghte.

"Using our security assets, we can bridge our structured and unstructured data, regardless of the source," he said. "... The context of the HAVEn platform is unique in the marketplace."

Spandas Lui attended HP World Tour as a guest of HP.

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