Quest for Big Data

Enterprise software company Quest enters the Big Data space, and does it the Enterprise way. Future parent Dell must be proud.

Quest Software is a company that most people working in the Enterprise relational database world know well.  Its Toad for Oracle product has been a favorite of developers and database administrators on the Oracle platform for a long time, and it is now available in versions for Microsoft’s SQL Server, IBM’s DB2 and Sybase as well.  Quest’s LiteSpeed product performs database backups far more quickly than supported databases’ standard backup services.  Quest also has products for performance monitoring, data protection and Windows Server management.  And, in case you’ve had no access to technology news outlets all summer, Quest has agreed to be acquired by Dell.

So in a space dedicated to Big Data, why am I writing about a company with such buttoned-down Enterprise products, and customers to match, that is about to be acquired by the world’s #3 PC vendor?  Because Big Data is going Enterprise and today Quest is announcing that it’s going Big Data with the release of its Toad Business Intelligence Suite.

BI and Big Data, oh my!
Toad BI Suite essentially combines two Quest products under the auspices of a third. Toad Data Point handles data import and export, while Toad Decision Point analyzes and visualizes data. Toad Intelligence Central integrates the two products, and facilitates collaborative workflow between the IT users of Data Point and the business users of Decision Point, to facilitate definition of an abstracted data model.

The Big Data angle to all of this is that Data Point can connect with both the conventional relational data sources that are Quest’s bread and butter, as well as cloud databases, BI databases and also Apache Hadoop.  Like many BI products that offer Hadoop connectivity, Toad BI Suite can work with Hive to do so.  However, unlike most such products, DataPoint also offers a native Hadoop connector and yet still allows querying via ANSI SQL.  Quest also has also developed its own Sqoop connector for Oracle and brings that to bear in Data Point as well.

The elephant in the room
All three components of Toad BI Suite are Windows desktop applications.  Does that run counter to the Linux, command line culture of the Hadoop world?  You bet it does.  But that doesn’t make the company naïve in its pursuit of a Big Data strategy.  And there are a couple of reasons why.

First, if Big Data is to become mainstream, then Big Data will have to mainstream its technology. And for a vast number of Enterprises today, that means entering the Windows ecosystem.  Second, and perhaps more to the point, the Toad BI Suite isn’t about Quest moving into a new market; it’s about providing new connectivity and functionality to its existing customer base.  Quest is delivering what its customers want: Big Data functionality in an Enterprise technology context.  That makes a lot of sense and is, I suspect, emblematic of the value that Dell sees in Quest and its product portfolio.

I expect we’ll see more such assimilation of Big Data into the Enterprise data and data analytics platform.  Big Data is part of that platform conceptually; Quest and other companies will, I think, make it part of the platform technologically as well.  That the product is identified by the “BI” moniker rather than the “Big Data” one drives the argument home quite well.  Let's keep an eye on how this trend might perpetuate and play out.