Last month Microsoft announced the acquisition of data warehousing appliance vendor DATAllegro, but now there is a fly in the ointment in the form of a patent suit charging that DATAllegro’s key technology was "borrowed" by DATAllegro CEO Stuart Frost from a company called XPrime where he was previously CEO and where it was patented:
The complaint (PDF, 35 pages) was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego by Cary Jardin, the founder of XPrime, who was issued a patent in February 2007 for a "System and Method for Generating and Processing Results Data in a Distributed System." Jardin had filed for the patent at the time Frost worked at XPrime, according to the suit.
The suit alleges that the "unauthorized use of Jardin’s intellectual property continues to this day."
With the acquisition still pending, Microsoft isn’t named as a defendant in the suit. The Redmond company referred questions to DATAllegro, based in Aliso Viejo, Calif. DATAllegro didn’t respond to requests for comment Wednesday afternoon.
This isn’t necessarily a deal killer, but you can be sure that the Microsoft lawyers are all over this one inserting insurance clauses in the final acquisition agreement.
It is still early in August, but Microsoft is already ready to fulfill their promise that the tardy SQL Server 2008 would finally be released in August. There are now seven versions of SQL Server including a Web version for hosting companies. So how do you get your hands on SQL Server 2008?
SQL Server 2008, which has been in beta testing for some time, is now available on the Microsoft Developer Network and Technet. An evaluation download will be available on the company’s Web site on Thursday.
The product is available in seven editions, each designed for the needs of different customer segments. More information about the editions is available on the SQL Server 2008 Web site.
One of the editions that is new with the 2008 release is SQL Server 2008 Web. SQL Server 2008 Web is designed for hosting companies, providing the tools necessary to support low-cost, large-scale, highly available Web applications or hosting environments, according to Microsoft.
On a conference call Wednesday, company executives explained how feedback from customers spurred them to release a major upgrade to the database a mere three years after its previous release, SQL Server 2005.
See, it’s not really all that late. For reference the seven editions are:
Microsoft apparently wants to try its hand at enterprise hardware since today it announced the acquisition of data warehousing appliance vendor DATAllegro for an undisclosed sum:
Microsoft Corp. today announced that it intends to acquire DATAllegro Inc., a provider of breakthrough data warehouse appliances. The acquisition will extend the capabilities of Microsoft’s mission-critical data platform, making it easier and more cost-effective for customers of all sizes to manage and glean insight from the ever-expanding amount of data generated by and for businesses, employees and consumers.
“Integrating DATAllegro’s nonproprietary hardware platform and flexible software architecture into Microsoft SQL Server will provide customers with the strongest offering in the market,” said Stuart Frost, CEO of DATAllegro. “We are excited to join forces with Microsoft and continue the innovation this company was founded on.”
Unlike most data warehouse appliance vendors targeting the 1–25 terabyte range, DATAllegro has specialized in large-volume, high-performance data warehouses. DATAllegro’s data warehouse appliance installations boast some of the largest data volume capacities in the industry — up to hundreds of terabytes on a single system. DATAllegro clients span such markets as retail, telecommunications and manufacturing.
DATAllegro’s boxes are lash-ups of Dell server hardware running Linux, EMC storage, and Cisco switches providing a customized version of the Ingres open source database which isn’t a bad way to go if you are going to do hardware. However, Microsoft intends to put their own stamp on things:
As soon as the acquisition closes, we’ll start the work of moving our technology from Ingres & Linux to SQL Server and Windows. Our feasibility studies over the last few months indicate that SQL Server is a significant improvement in terms of performance – especially in key areas such as star joins, I/O throughput and in-memory operations. The engineering team here at DATAllegro is VERY excited about the next version of the product.
Current customers will be supported, but I wonder whether the sales team will have anything to sell before the Microsoft version is done.
In any case, the big picture is that Microsoft feels that commoditization in the data warehousing business is such that they have to have their own proprietary data warehousing hardware even if they have some work ahead to make it fit.
Microsoft has made yet another "talent and technology" acquisition – this time of Zoomix, a startup based in Israel that makes data quality software for databases.
Microsoft announced today that it has signed an agreement to purchase Zoomix, an Israeli start-up focused on data quality software. With the Zoomix acquisition, Microsoft will provide customers with a manageable and scalable enterprise-class data quality solution which further enhances Microsoft’s vision of making SQL Server a complete data platform for all data management needs.
Zoomix has developed a unique approach to data quality software. The Zoomix system uses guided self-learning technology to easily build a knowledge of how to parse, match, classify and clean data, and applies what it has learned to every new piece of information fed into the system, even if it has not encountered similar data before.
Following the acquisition, Zoomix’s development staff will join the Microsoft research and development center in Israel, and the Zoomix solutions will be added to those of the Microsoft International SQL Server group.
If you aren’t familiar with "data quality," the basic idea is that corporate databases gradually deteriorate as they are used because duplicate and inconsistent data inevitably manages to sneak in. Traditionally, the data has had to be manually scrubbed, but the Zoomix Accelerator software tries to to this "automagically" as illustrated in the usage scenarios on the Zoomix website. The data quality software market is rapidly growing with a number of players (e.g. Business Objects, IBM) and the Zoomix acquisition presumably allows SQL Server to cut a piece of that pie for Microsoft.