Written by Craig Wentworth
The Internet of Things has been a big part of Pentaho’s game plan for a while now.
The company has always sought to position its big data integration and analytics platform at the nexus of sensor data, social media, location data, customer transactions, and so on – both providing a means of blending multi-dimensional data sources from analytic databases, Hadoop and NoSQL stores (on demand and at source), and applying a layer of business analytics in situ. And it’s this twin data preparation / integration and analytics combo that’s attracted OEM partners (Hitachi Data Systems amongst them) keen to embed analytics capabilities close to their data in myriad devices.
Now Hitachi has gone one better, and is all set to buy the company for an undisclosed sum (though touted as “the largest private big data acquisition transaction to date” – so think: somewhere north of $400m – representing a handsome return for Pentaho’s investors, who’d funded the company to the tune of $60m over seven years). The deal will see Pentaho retain its brand (as “a Hitachi Data Systems company”) and continue to execute its current business model under CEO Quentin Gallivan (who’ll report to HDS’ SVP of Social Innovation and Global Industries).
So, supposedly business as usual for Pentaho in the immediate future (though worth noting that the last couple of times Gallivan sold the company he headed up – Aster Data to Teradata in 2011, and Postini to Google in 2007 – he didn’t end up staying that long after the loose ends were all tied up before moving onto his next challenge).
Google was already using Postini technology under licence with Gmail when it acquired the company. Given HDS’ history OEM’ing Pentaho into its devices, on the surface this looks like a similar arrangement (and of course it’d mean Hitachi’s IoT competitors that also feature Pentaho inside will be licensing it from them now, or else starting to look elsewhere for their embedded business analytics). For the moment, HDS is content to talk of leveraging Pentaho to fold more big data solutions into its products, and being able to do it faster – signalling a clear play by HDS to own more of the capability space around its instrumented devices and machinery. How long that remains aligned with an autonomous Pentaho and its own roadmap (which has always covered more than just IoT use cases – 360 customer views, fraud detection, etc.) in the long term remains to be seen, of course. Will HDS leave everything running, even if some aspects may be a distraction from its core interests; will it hive off or close down what doesn’t fit but still operate the company as a separate concern (albeit one more focused on IoT) which still anyone can embed in their devices; or will it simply absorb what it needs to bolster its own IoT portfolio and slowly retire the brand?
New Pentaho Chief Product Officer Chris Dziekan unveiled the company’s three-year roadmap at its PentahoWorld conference in October last year. 2015’s event might see some tweaks to years 2 and 3 if HDS starts to exert its influence.