Pivotal Punts Big Data Platform to Open Source

Pivotal on Wednesday announced its decision to open source all of the core components of its big data platform, becoming the first big data industry player to do so.

The company also announced its participation in the Open Data Platform, which seeks to encourage more enterprise collaboration, along with the adoption of modern, scalable data architectures.

The opening of the Pivotal Big Data Suite follows Pivotal’s success last year with open sourcing its Cloud Foundry.

“For a long time, we have been aligned with open source. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the portfolio followed suit,” said Michael Cucchi, senior director of outbound products at Pivotal. What’s Included The core components of the Pivotal Big Data Suite include Pivotal Greenplum, an analytical massively parallel processing database; Pivotal HAWQ, an advanced enterprise SQL on Hadoop analytic engine; and Pivotal GemFire, a NoSQL in-memory database. The open sourced core components are fully functional.

They provide mission-critical resiliency, advanced client support, performance optimizations and advanced operational tools, according to the company, as well as new entitlements for Pivotal Cloud Foundry and new application services.

Pivotal screen shot

The open source product is delivered via an open cloud platform that addresses customer interest in going beyond data storage. The big data suite provides support for bare metal commodity hardware, appliance-based delivery and virtualized instances. It also offers public, private and hybrid cloud support.

“By making such a wide ranging open source release, Pivotal is making its software available to testers and hand coders at the grass roots level,” said John Myers, managing research director for business intelligence and data warehousing at Enterprise Management Associates.

“This helps Pivotal eliminate a barrier to entry for those groups who need to test their solutions [or build on] earlier successes prior to a higher-level purchasing decision,” he told LinuxInsider.

No Risk Move

It did not make sense to open source just one component of its big data platform, Pivotal’s Cucchi told LinuxInsider.

Still, opening the entire suite “was a bold move,” he acknowledged.

That said, “we do not think we are impacting our value or our revenue potential. We have done it before with Cloud Foundry. We put hundreds of millions of dollars into that product,” Cucchi pointed out.

Open sourcing Pivotal Big Data Suite is a smart move, said EMA’s Myers. The company will gain engaged customers ready for enterprise data center and support features in the paid or enterprise license.

“This effectively streamlines the purchasing process for customers. Demos and proofs of concept are handled by technically oriented customers rather than the Pivotal sales and pre-sales teams'” Myers explained.

The risk is that some of those customers will simply download and implement the product without the Pivotal teams or a license revenue stream, he noted. However, most enterprise organizations will require the paid enterprise license features to move the Pivotal products into production or onto the enterprise data center floor.

An Assortment of Options

Pivotal and other open source organizations have special appeal for companies that use an implementation approach focused on hand-coded technical resources. Success with this customer segment could encourage other data management platforms to make similar changes, noted Myers.

“We are pretty confident. We don’t feel that we are at risk in any way,” said Cucchi.

For organizations focused on a product purchase or configuration implementation strategy, the open source approach amounts to six of one or a half dozen of another, suggested Myers, since those end-customers are not as inclined to download and test in the first place.

“The possibility exists that Pivotal could lose revenue from smaller, first-time engagements and organizations that do not have a strict data center acceptance policy,” he said. “However, I believe those are relatively low-margin opportunities.”

Shared Development Results

Pivotal hopes to grow the success of its big data suite the same way it grew the foundry, which became one of the most successful open source products ever, according to Cucci.

“We know that it works. This creates a lot of codevelopment with customers,” he said.

The ability to provide multiple implementation avenues and be viewed as an open technology partner, as opposed to a licensed software provider, will open Pivotal’s data management platforms to the same type of audience as its Cloud Foundry PaaS customer base, observed Myers.

“Internet of Things implementations will require this type of open, agile and adaptive platform to be successful,” he said. “Pivotal’s ability to combine open systems, proven technology, cloud delivery, and expertise in agile methodologies is well matched to provide value in the evolving world of big data and IoT.”

Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him onGoogle+.

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