Research firm William Blair reported that Rackspace is likely to win business from Wal-Mart for the purpose of Big Data analytics in the retail sector. According to William Blair analyst Jim Breen, Wal-Mart is hiring OpenStack technical resources and outsourcing cloud-related services to Rackspace. Wal-Mart is reportedly in the process of combining its EMC and IBM-based retail data platforms into one aggregated Big Data platform. Breen wrote that Wal-Mart’s ten online portals currently use segregated data siloes and that the larger corporate vision is to combine these discrete platforms into one massive data repository that enables richer insights about consumer behavior and operations. Breen spoke of the significance of Rackspace’s collaboration with Wal-Mart by noting:
From a broad perspective, we believe Rackspace’s ability to gain traction with Wal-Mart for big data reflects early success of the OpenStack platform and foreshadows new market opportunities.
What is surprising about Breen’s report is that, while Rackspace is recognized as an OpenStack founder and visionary, the San Antonio-based company is less well known as a key player in the Big Data space. Rackspace may be planning to count on leveraging its ability to aggregate web-based data using OpenStack object and block storage as the infrastructure for a Big Data platform for Wal-Mart, but details of the Big Data analytic and querying tools it plans to use for the collaboration have yet to emerge. In any case, shares of Rackspace closed up 2% in early trading on Wednesday after the William Blair announcement. Rackspace shares are up nearly 60% for the entire year.