Puppet Labs Secures $8.5 Million in Series C Funding With New Investors Cisco, Google Ventures and VMware

Puppet Labs announced the closure of a Series C funding round valued at $8.5 million. As a result of the funding raise, new investors Cisco, Google Ventures and VMware join existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, True Ventures, and Radar Partners. Since its formation in 2005, the company has now raised a total of $15.75 million. The new round of funding is intended to support a market in which “demand for our products is outstripping our ability to satisfy it through organic growth alone,” according to Puppet’s CEO Luke Kanies. Kanies further noted that VMware, Google and Cisco represented ideal partners to accelerate the adoption of its IT automation and management software because of their deep relationships in the virtualization, cloud computing and IT vendor landscape.

Puppet Labs provides software that enables system administrators to effectively manage increasingly heterogeneous IT environments featuring legacy systems, private clouds, virtual machines and public clouds, all of which collectively serve the needs of multiple constituencies with varying application needs and role-based access privileges. Puppet Enterprise 2.0 delivers a visually intuitive graphical interface that enables system administrators to discover existing resources, benchmark resource utilization against a desired baseline, configure and deploy new resources to increase scale, and launch critical updates, all within a matter of seconds, without adding headcount. Puppet Enterprise 2.0 also features provisioning capability for Amazon EC2 and VMware instances as well as unauthorized access and change of setting tracking for compliance purposes.

The Series C funding raise marks the culmination of a momentous year for the company. Puppet Labs outgrew its open source roots in January with the launch of the first commercial edition of its product, Puppet Enterprise. In September, the company launched Puppet Enterprise 2.0 and now claims over 250 customers including Twitter, Zynga, Oracle/Sun, Match.com and Constant Contact.

Karim Faris, partner at Google Ventures, remarked on the promise of Puppet Labs and its recent investment as follows:

“Global companies need efficient solutions to manage their on-premise and cloud infrastructures. The Puppet Labs team has demonstrated the market traction and leadership to capitalize on this tremendous opportunity, and we’re looking forward to working with them to grow the business.”

The widespread commercial interest in Puppet Labs underscores the need for technology to manage increasingly complex IT environments that feature a combination of traditional and cloud based applications. The success of Puppet Labs over the past year suggests that, alongside cloud security and mobile device management, Puppet’s specialization in technology orchestration and management increasingly ranks as one of the auxiliary technologies likely to mushroom alongside the proliferation of virtualization and cloud computing in contemporary enterprise IT environments.

MarkLogic 5 Features Hadoop Connector For Enhanced Big Data Analytics

With the November 1 release of MarkLogic 5, MarkLogic consolidated its position in the Big Data space by announcing support for Hadoop, the Apache open source software framework for analyzing massive amounts of structured and unstructured data. For over a decade, MarkLogic has delivered analytics that enable actionable intelligence on data for organizations such as JP Morgan Chase, Lexis Nexis and the U.S. Army. MarkLogic 5 features a connector for Hadoop that integrates Hadoop’s capabilities for processing petabytes of data with MarkLogic’s proprietary applications for analyzing Big Data. In addition to a Hadoop connector, MarkLogic 5 includes enhanced capabilities to store, tag and analyze textual data and digital interactive media. The latest release of MarkLogic also features superior database replication capabilities and functionality for monitoring the performance of enterprise level Big Data installations.

The release of MarkLogic 5 testifies to the explosion of commercial interest in non-relational databases for storing and mining unstructured data. Microsoft’s Big Data platform plans to integrate Hadoop with Windows Server and Windows Azure, with connectors to SQL Server 2012. Oracle, meanwhile, recently revealed the basic components of its Big Data appliance that features Hadoop in addition to its Oracle NoSQL database.

IBM Releases Big Data Software On SmartCloud; Cognos for iPad

On Monday, IBM announced the release of the Infosphere BigInsights application for analyzing massive volumes of structured and unstructured data on its SmartCloud environment. The SmartCloud release of IBM’s BigInsights application means that IBM beat competitors Oracle and Microsoft in the race to deploy an enterprise grade, cloud based Big Data analytics platform. Over the past month, Oracle and Microsoft have revealed plans to release cloud based Big Data applications that leverage Apache Hadoop, although in the case of both companies, plans for a live release are scheduled for 2012. BigInsights was previously accessed via the IBM Smart Business Development and Test Cloud environment that served as the testing ground for IBM’s SmartCloud which was deployed in April 2011.

IBM developed its Big Data analytics platform because organizations across a number of verticals are drowning in the sea of unstructured data such as Facebook and Twitter feeds, internet searches, log files and emails. IBM’s press release quantified the size of the emerging big data space as follows:

Organizations of all sizes are struggling to keep up with the rate and pace of big data and use it in a meaningful way to improve products, services, or the customer experience. Every day, people create the equivalent of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions, and social networks; so much that 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years. Every month people send one billion Tweets and post 30 billion messages on Facebook. Meanwhile, more than 1 trillion mobile devices are in use today and mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016.

IBM customers in the banking, insurance and communications verticals are currently using BigInsights to more effectively understand trends from web analytics, social media feeds, text messages and other forms of unstructured data. The availability of BigInsights via IBM’s SmartCloud is likely to accelerate enterprise adoption of the product given enterprise familiarity with the SmartCloud offering and recent publicity about its October 12 upgrade. The deployment of BigInsights on SmartCloud also gives IBM early traction in the Big Data space, with competition from Amazon Elastic MapReduce from Amazon Web Services, EMC, Teradata and HP. Granted, Oracle and Microsoft are set to join the Big Data party soon, but IBM should have at least six months to consolidate its market positioning ahead of its West coast based competitors. The enterprise version of BigInsights is priced at 60 cents per cluster per hour whereas the basic version is free.

Key features of enterprise level IBM Infosphere BigInsights include the following:

• Advanced text analytics to mine massive amounts of textual data
• A spreadsheet-like interface called BigSheets that allows users to create and deploy analytics without writing code
• Web-based management console
• Jaql, a query language for querying structured and unstructured data through an interface that resembles SQL

In tandem with the release of BigInsights on the SmartCloud, IBM announced the availability of IBM Cognos Mobile on the iPad and iPhone. iPad users can now leverage Cognos to run analytics on data and obtain access to a suite of visually rich dashboards. The combination of Cognos on the iPad and BigInsights clearly indicates that portability of access to data analytics constitutes a key component of IBM’s big data strategy. The big question now concerns how Oracle and Microsoft will differentiate themselves from BigInsights in their respective, forthcoming Big Data offerings.

Oracle Acquires RightNow Technologies for $1.43 Billion

Less than a week after its $1.1 billion acquisition of Big Data player Endeca, Oracle announced plans to acquire RightNow Technologies for $1.43 billion. RightNow Technologies delivers a cloud based technology platform that enables enterprises to deliver enhanced customer experiences with a product via the web, social media and call centers. The RightNow Technologies “Contact Center” platform empowers service representatives with data and solution options for customers calling with questions or complaints. Similarly, the RightNow Technologies web solution empowers companies to optimize the web experience of their customers to optimize conversions and obtain optimal web support. The Boston based company’s Social Experience offering enables enterprises to monitor and refine their branding on Facebook and other social media sites.

The deal represents Oracle’s largest acquisition since Sun Microsystems in 2010 for $7.4 billion. Oracle’s acquisition of RightNow Technologies consolidates its emerging public cloud offering and positions it to compete squarely against Salesforce.com, the market leader in sales management technology that leverages cloud based solutions. In September, Gartner positioned RightNow Technologies within the leader quadrant of its Magic Quadrant for CRM Web Customer Service.

Oracle Continues Big Data Push With Endeca Acquisition

On Tuesday, Oracle announced plans to acquire Big Data player Endeca just weeks after unveiling its Big Data appliance featuring Apache Hadoop and an Oracle NoSQL Database. Endeca’s proprietary MDEX technology powers two products: (1) Endeca InFront; and (2) Endeca Latitude. Endeca InFront enables users to understand customer trends and histories by examining online pages viewed, search terms and conversion rates. Endeca Latitude delivers a business intelligence platform for running analytics on structured and unstructured data.

According to Endeca’s website, Endeca Latitude claims the following differentiators from traditional BI solutions:

• No Data Left Behind:
Endeca Latitude incorporates a range of structured and unstructured data including unstructured data from web searches and Facebook and Twitter feeds in addition to traditional, relationally structured data.

• Consumer Ease of Use
Whereas traditional BI is based around reports and dashboards, Latitude’s analytics are delivered through interactive, web-based applications that provide a greater range of user drill-down and customization options.

• Agile Delivery
Endeca Latitude claims faster customization of its product to enterprise requriements than that of its competitors Autonomy and Attivio. Moreover, Endeca Latitude allows for iterative refinement of its analytics through its interactive application that enables enhanced collaboration between technology and business stakeholders.

One of the distinctive features of Endeca’s MDEX analytics engine is its lack of a data schema. Instead of a predefined data model, MDEX leverages a Faceted Data Model in which the schema emerges and morphs in relation to the characteristics of the data. Endeca InFront will be integrated with the Oracle ATG commerce engine to deliver analytics that improve online customer experience and conversion rates. Endeca Latitude will take its place alongside Oracle’s suite of BI tools and its forthcoming Big Data Appliance to analyze massive amounts of structured and unstructured data.

According to a June press release, Endeca “was used to power one of the largest eDiscovery clusters in the world exceeding 20 billion objects for interactive discovery – comparable in size to leading web search indexes of a few years ago.” The company’s customers include IBM, IEEE, Toyota, Ford, Walmart, The Home Depot and The U.S. Department of Justice out of a total of 600. Oracle did not disclose the terms of the acquisition of the Cambridge, Massachusetts based company although GigaOm reports that Endeca took in $65 million in venture capital over the course of four capital raises. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.

Battle for Big Data Heats Up As Microsoft and Oracle Announce Hadoop-based Products

The battle for market share in the big data space is officially underway, with passion. At last week’s Professional Association for SQL Server Summit (PASS), Microsoft announced plans to develop a platform for big data processing and analytics based on Hadoop, the open source software framework that operates under an Apache license. Microsoft’s announcement comes roughly ten days after Oracle’s unveiling of its Big Data Appliance that provides enterprise level capabilities to process structured and unstructured data.

Key features of Oracle’s Big Data Appliance include the following:

•Software
–Apache Hadoop
–Oracle NoSQL Database Enterprise Edition
–Oracle Data Integrator Application Adapter for Hadoop
–Oracle Loader for Hadoop
–Open source distribution of R

•Hardware
–Oracle’s Exadata x86 clusters (Oracle Exadata Database Machine, Oracle Exalytics Business Intelligence Machine)

Oracle’s hardware supports the Oracle 11g R2 database alongside Oracle’s Red Hat Enterprise Linux version and virtualization based on the Xen hypervisor. The company’s announcement of its plans to leverage a NoSQL database represented an abrupt about face of an earlier Oracle position that discredited the significance of NoSQL. In May, Oracle published a whitepaper Debunking the NoSQL Hype that downplayed the enterprise level capability of NoSQL deployments.

Microsoft’s forthcoming Big Data platform features the following:

–Hadoop for Windows Server and Azure
–Hadoop connectors for SQL Server and SQL Parallel Data Warehouse
–Hive ODBC drivers for users of Microsoft Business Intelligence applications

Microsoft revealed a strategic partnership with Yahoo spinoff Hortonworks to integrate Hadoop with Windows Server and Windows Azure. Microsoft’s decision not to leverage NoSQL and use instead a Windows based version of Hadoop for SQL Server 2012 constitutes the key difference between Microsoft and Oracle’s Big Data platforms. The entry of Microsoft and Oracle into the Big Data space suggests that the market is ready to explode as government and private sector agencies increasingly find value in unlocking business value from unstructured data such as emails, log files, twitter feeds and text-centered data. IBM and EMC hold the early market share lead but competition is set to intensify, particularly given the recent affirmation handed to NoSQL by tech giant Oracle.