EMC Marries Social Networking And Big Data - InformationWeek

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3/20/2012
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EMC Marries Social Networking And Big Data

EMC buys Pivotal Labs, launches Greenplum Chorus to give data scientists social networking features.

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EMC launched a big data analytics platform called Greenplum Chorus on Tuesday that brings social networking and collaboration to data analysts and data scientists. It is also seeking to inject agile development methods into developing applications that use big data by acquiring the San Francisco agile development firm, Pivotal Labs.

EMC President Pat Gelsinger said Greenplum Chorus was "like a Facebook for data scientists" with a way to share data sets for collaboration and further analysis.

EMC's Greenplum division and the San Francisco experts in agile methodology at Pivotal Labs developed the Chorus big data platform together. The amount of the all-cash acquisition of Pivotal was not disclosed, but it illustrates the way EMC is following the lead of its hard driving, VMware virtualization software unit.

[ Want to learn more about how Hadoop is spurring greater use of big data? See Hadoop Spurs Big Data Revolution. ]

In today's software market, developer involvement is a prized resource, and VMware is now widely understood to have scored a coup when it acquired a leading Java development framework with its acquisition of SpringSource, the company behind the Spring open source code project. Now EMC is hoping to pull developers into its big data analytics platform by giving them a rapid development environment that helps them work and collaborate. On top of Chorus, it will also offer a team of Pivotal agile consultants to help companies put it to work fast. Pivotal staffers are the creators of Chorus Tracker, an agile project tracking tool that's used by 240,000 developers.

In building Chorus with Pivotal, EMC found a close synergy as well with its VMware unit to give developers a "sandbox" or isolated, virtual environment in which they may download a data set and work with it, without interfering with other analysts or being in danger of corrupting the original data. Data scientists may then comment on, modify, or share the results with other analysts via Chorus as well.

The Pivotal acquisition is not just about helping data users complete big data projects for a fee. It's more geared to "teaching them to fish," Gelsinger said in his part of a 90-minute Webcast, so they may launch more big data projects on their own after the Pivotal team exits the door.

The idea behind acquiring Pivotal has less to do with making money at big data consulting engagements or completing big data projects for clients than with "teaching them to fish," said Gelsinger in his part of a 90-minute Webcast on the announcements. The wider use of big data by many companies fuels another core EMC business, storage and storage management.

The Greenplum data warehouse is based on the PostgreSQL open source database system. Chorus itself will be made open source in the second half. Greenplum Chorus will become part of the Greenplum Unified Analytics Platform launched earlier this year.

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