EMC's Greenplum offers 'big data' tools at no charge

Greenplum's goal is to build a higher profile in a heated data warehousing and analytics market

EMC is now offering a community edition of its Greenplum data warehousing platform, as well as algorithms and data mining tools for working with large data sets, at no charge, the company announced Tuesday.

The software, which is available for download now at the company's website, will eliminate initial cost barriers for such technologies, as well as enable developers and scientists to contribute to future tools, according to a statement.

Greenplum Community Edition includes the company's MPP (massively parallel processing) database; MADlib, an open-source library of analytic algorithms; and a data-modeling tool called Alpine Miner.

Users who decide to try the Community Edition "gain access to a comprehensive, purpose-built business analytics environment that enables them to view, modify and enhance included demo data files," the company said. They can also participate in a new set of community forums.

The software is only intended for research, development and experiments, with license purchases required for commercial uses. Current customers of Greenplum Single-Node Edition can deploy Community Edition in their single-node production environments.

"This project is about empowering developers -- they can program using the most popular tools, and they have a place to contribute open-source extensions to the stack," said Luke Lonergan, CTO and vice president of EMC's Data Computing Products Division, in a statement.

But the release could also be viewed as a necessary move given Greenplum's position in a market where the competition seems to grow more fierce every day. Competition comes from a panoply of startups such as Aster Data, established players such as Teradata, and newer products from platform companies moving further into analytics, embodied by Oracle's Exadata and SAP's HANA.

All those companies need to develop vibrant user communities around their technologies, and issuing free versions of the software is a natural means to that end.

Also, each data warehousing vendor increasingly is positioning its products as a unified stack for advanced analytics, said Forrester Research analyst James Kobielus.

Merely having the ability to handle huge volumes of data isn't a differentiator any more, he added. The real competitive advantage lies in the depth of data warehousing vendors' supporting tools and partner ecosystem.

To that end, Greenplum needs to build up a strong community in order to gain interest from ISVs, Kobielus said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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