Interesting Interview with Quentin G,AsterData

Here is an interesting interview with Quentin G, CEO AsterData, Marketing trumpeting aside apart-the insights on the whats next vision thing are quite good.


As you look down the road, what are the three major challenges you see for vendors who keep trying to solve big data and other “now” problems with old tools?

Old tools and traditional architectures cannot scale effectively to handle massive data volumes that reach 100’s of terabytes nor can they effectively process large data volumes in a high performance manner. Further, they are restricted to what SQL querying allows. The three challenges I have noted are:

First, performance, specifically, poor performance on large data volumes and heavy workloads: The pre-existing systems rely on storing data in a traditional DBMS or data warehouse and then extracting a sample of data to a separate processing tier. This greatly restricts data insights and analytics as only a sample of data is analyzed and understood.  As more data is stored in these systems they suffer from performance degradation as more users try to access the system concurrently. Additionally moving masses of data out of the traditional DBMS to a separate processing tier adds latency and slows down analytics and response times. This pre-existing architecture greatly limits performance especially as data sizes grow.

Second, limited analytics: Pre-existing systems rely mostly on SQL for data querying and analysis. SQL poses several limitations and is not suited for ad hoc querying, deep data exploration and a range of other analytics. MapReduce overcomes the limitations of SQL and SQL-MapReduce in particular opens up a new class of analytics that cannot be achieved with SQL alone.

And, third, limitations of types of data that can be stored and analyzed: Traditional systems are not designed for non-relational or unstructured data. New solutions such as Aster Data’s are designed from the ground up to handle both relational and non-relational data. Organizations want to store and process a range of data types and do this in a single platform. New solutions allow for different data types to be handled in a single platform whereas pre-existing architectures and solutions are specialized around a single data type or format – this restricts the diversity of analytics that can be performed on these systems.

Read the whole interview at –

Speaking of which- there is a new webinar by Merv Adrian (interview on Decisionstats) and Colin White-

and from the famous AOL website- a profile of AsterData’s money flow which kind of hints at an IPO two years onwards-

Business Analytics Analyst Relations /Ethics/White Papers

Curt Monash, whom I respect and have tried to interview (unsuccessfully) points out suitable ethical dilemmas and gray areas in Analyst Relations in Business Intelligence here at

If you dont know what Analyst Relations are, well it’s like credit rating agencies for BI software. Read Curt and his landscaping of the field here ( I am quoting a summary) at

Vendors typically pay for

  1. They want to connect with sales prospects.
  2. They want general endorsement from the analyst.
  3. They specifically want endorsement from the analyst for their marketing claims.
  4. They want the analyst to do a better job of explaining something than they think they could do themselves.
  5. They want to give the analyst some money to enhance the relationship,

Merv Adrian (I interviewed Merv here at has responded well here at

None of the sites I checked clearly identify the work as having been sponsored in any way I found obvious in my (admittefly) quick scan. So this is an issue, but it’s not confined to Oracle.

My 2 cents (not being so well paid 😉 are-

I think Curt was calling out Oracle (which didnt respond) and not Merv ( whose subsequent blog post does much to clarify).

As a comparative new /younger blogger in this field,
I applaud both Curt to try and bell the cat ( or point out what everyone in AR winks at) and for Merv for standing by him.

In the long run, it would strengthen analyst relations as a channel if they separate financial payment of content from bias. An example is credit rating agencies who forgot to do so in BFSI and see what happened.

Customers invest millions of dollars in BI systems trusting marketing collateral/white papers/webinars/tests etc. Perhaps it’s time for an industry association for analysts so that individual analysts don’t knuckle down under vendor pressure.

It is easier for someone of Curt, Merv’s stature to declare editing policy and disclosures before they write a white paper.It is much harder for everyone else who is not so well established.

White papers can take as much as 25,000$ to produce- and I know people who in Business Analytics (as opposed to Business Intelligence) slog on cents per hour cranking books on R, SAS , webinars, trainings but there are almost no white papers in BA. Are there any analytics independent analysts who are not biased by R or SAS or SPSS or etc etc. I am not sure but this looks like a good line to  pursue 😉 – provided ethical checks and balances are established.

Personally I know of many so called analytics communities go all out to please their sponsors so bias in writing does exist (you cant praise SAS on a R Blogging Forum or R USers Meet and you cant write on WPS at SAS )

– at the same time someone once told me- It is tough to make a living as a writer, and that choice between easy money and credible writing needs to be respected.

Most sponsored white papers I read are pure advertisements, directed at CEOs rather than the techie community at large.

Almost every BI vendor claims to have the fastest database with 5X speed- and benchmarking in technical terms could be something they could do too.

Just like Gadget sites benchmark products, you can not benchmark BI or even BA products as it is written not to do so  in many licensing terms.

Probably that is the reason Billions are spent in BI and the positive claims are doubtful ( except by the sellers). Similarly in Analytics, many vendors would have difficulty justifying their claims or prices if they are subjected to a side by side comparison. Unfortunately the resulting confusion results in shoddy technology coming stronger due to more aggressive marketing.

Interview Merv Adrian IT Market Strategy

An interview with renowned technology analyst Merv Adrian is as follows. Mr Adrian has spent three decades in IT industry and has also served as SVP at Forrester Research, and now is founder of IT Market Strategy. Merv talks on his views on technology and how he sees the next big tech trends coming.


Ajay- Describe your career in science and technology. What do you think is the best thing that science careers offer to people.

Merv- I wouldn’t characterize myself as having worked in science – even computer science implies a direction quite different from my own. I began as a statistician, and after getting the opportunity to learn some computer skills, spent a number of years coding a variety of decision support and data integration programs. I joined the software industry as a technical journal editor, and held a variety of marketing, strategy and analyst relations positions before beoming an industry analyst.

Ajay-  With your background in finance, how do you think the next generation of financial reporting systems should be built for early warning signals of crisis. Due to think predictive analytics can play a bigger role than just traditional reporting and metric aggregation.

Merv- We’re already seeing greater specialization in financial applications that provide context: an understanding of the industry the firm is in, and its special requirements for industry standards, compliance, etc. This added specific depth and breadth, combined with increasing sophistication in pre-built models for predictive analytics and access to hitherto unavailable volumes of historical data, will extend the reach of applications used by financial professionals. Guided analysis and advanced visualization will make more sophisticated tools available and understandable, promoting more awareness of impending problems and recommending courses of action.

Ajay- What tips would you like to give to aspiring analysts or science journalists and bloggers. What are the top 5 things do’s /don’ts that you refer to while writing a report or analysis.


* Never stop learning, and never assume you know enough. Be humble enough to acknowledge that the person you talk to may have something to teach you – and ask about anything you hear that you don’t understand.

* Remember your audience. If you don’t know who you’re writing for, how can you decide what matters to them?

* Explain why what you’re saying matters, and to whom. Don’t assume your readers know.

* Be clear about what is new or changed. If it’s business as usual, there should be a good reason to write about it – maybe change was expected but is slow in coming.

* Acknowledge your sources and collaborators. Be generous with credit.

Ajay- Recently some BI Analyst firms saw the departure of star analysts to found their own firm. How do you think tech companies can manage the retention of talented people especially those who become a bigger brand than they were originally supposed to.

Merv- I’m assuming you want the response to refer to analyst firms. “Bigger than they were originally supposed to” is not an accurate way to describe the sitution.

Analyst firms don’t put a ceiling on their employees’ brand building; quite the contrary. They train them, give them a platform, and sustain them as they do so. Nonetheless, the firm’s brand, not the individual analyst’s brand, is what matters to them.

In general, the big ones don’t care about retaining people. They believe they can easily replace them, and history shows that they recover well from such departures.

Ajay- What incentives apart from the usual financial ones can help build a culture of intrapreneurship in which employees help build startups within the parent firm.

Merv- You can’t leave finances out of it. The business model that has been shown to work for intrapreneurs is partnership, where the partners share significantly in successful practices they build and deliver.

In consulting firms, if you build a practice, you benefit from its success. Analyst firms are increasingly making consulting part of the analyst job description, but the big ones have not made any moves to institute a partner-style model. So to your point, those who build their own brand successfully are likely to leave.

They become entrepreneurs, not intrapreneurs.

Ajay- What are your views on the next 12 months in terms of technology and BI industry dynamics. What is your wishlist- the top three things that you wish happen in the field of technology.


* We’re entering a period of great ferment in data management as a set of upstarts has had early success with specialized analytic database platforms. As spending rebounds, most will see their momentum continue. Several have new funding, strong management teams, and early successes to build on.

* The rest of BI will see similar expansion. BI is a perennial growth market and it’s not about to slow down – predictive analytics, advanced visualization, more spohisticated and widespread use of text analytics, and the movement to SaaS models will play a role.

* True analytic applications, as described above in a financial context, will also continue their momentum. You’ll see them in other places, from manufacturing to retail, as micro-verticalization and the proliferation of templated best business practice models roll out form the largest players.

Those are both predictions and a wish list – they move us closer to delivering on the promise of having computing power help us improve business results. There are many more changes coming in packaging, licensing, the emergence of dramatically more powerful hardware platforms – but that’s business as usual. The aging server population will need replacement, and the rebound will be substantial, hastening the generational shift. And a skills shortage will re-accelerate the growth of offshoring. The next decade will be transformational in many ways.

Ajay- How does Merv Adrian balance his work and home life? How important is work life balance in this profession and do you think younger analysts sometimes dont pay attention to it.

Merv- As a manager, I always did my best to remind analysts working for me to leave time for the things that define us a humans – family, friends and faith. What we leave behind will be there, not in our reports, no matter how good they are. We all find ourselves consumed by our work, and social media exacerbates the situation unless we build in ways to be human too.

Youth will always be in a hurry, but the natural maturation process usually works out fine. Where I see balance begin to reassert itself is usually in the family – when your kids arrive, you must stop and remember to be there for them. You mustn’t delegate that one – nobody has ever looked back at their life and said “I wish I had spent less time with my kids.”

Thanks for asking, Ajay. My final thought is that all this guidance is aspirational; I struggle for balance every day. Sometimes I do pretty well at it,and often I fall short. I try to keep my values firmly in mind and strive to live up to them, as we all do.

Analyst and consultant Merv Adrian founded IT Market Strategy after three decades in the IT industry. During his tenure as Senior Vice President at Forrester Research, he was responsible for all of Forrester’s technology research, and covered the software industry. Earlier, as Vice President at Giga Information Group, Merv focused on facilitating collaborative research and covered data management and middleware. Prior to becoming an analyst, Merv was Senior Director, Strategic Marketing at Sybase, where he also held director positions in data warehouse marketing and analyst relations

For more on Merv’s views you can go here

Merv’s B-Eye Network channel at
Twitter: merv