Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oracle, HP, Intel, IBM Foresee a Boom in Tech Spending

USA Today

Acquisition fever at Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and IBM probably won't cool down anytime soon; not with corporations, big government and large organizations — the so-called enterprise sector — poised to spend trillions on the next generation of digital systems.

Tech research firm Gartner this week forecast that enterprises worldwide will spend $232 billon on software alone this year, up 4.5% from 2009.

Meanwhile, overall spending for hardware, software and IT services should hit $3.4 trillion this year and $3.5 trillion in 2011.

The tech giants are anticipating that enterprises will build out new, cutting-edge networks tuned to extract valuable insights from the massive caches of data they've amassed.

Growth will come to those organizations that productively use this new intelligence in near-real-time, on PCs, smartphones and mobile devices.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini used a descriptor for this movement at Intel's Developers Forum in San Francisco two weeks ago.

He called it "pervasive computing."

Otellini described a world where enterprises routinely access not just raw data, but valuable business intelligence applied to that data, "anywhere, any time and in any way," says Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

Oracle, Intel, IBM and HP are in the race to assemble lower-cost, more streamlined hardware and software components that mesh well and can deliver business intelligence in near-real-time.

The tech rivals are striving to "integrate and control the correct pieces" and be the most successful at "providing functionalities that work in concert, so that it's like a symphony," says Mike Workman, CEO of data storage company Pillar Data Systems.

The projected beneficiaries: airlines, utilities, health care companies, retailers or any business in possession of lots of data.

IBM on Monday announced that it is buying business intelligence software and hardware maker Netezza for $1.7 billion.

That follows HP's acquisition of storage company 3Par and tech-security firm ArcSight; Intel's acquisition of anti-virus supplier McAfee and the wireless division of German tech company Infineon; and Oracle's six acquisitions this year, including swallowing up Sun Microsystems.

"IBM's acquisition of Netezza is yet another validation of just how important advanced analytics is in the business world right now," says Barry Zane, chief technical officer of business intelligence software maker ParAccel. "There is no question the industry is hot right now."

More buyouts of smaller tech companies developing cutting-edge storage and security systems and innovative business-intelligence applications seem likely as the tech giants pursue the winning blueprint, says Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates.

"The ability to store all business applications and data centrally and to make it all available to users is a very powerful paradigm shift," Gold says. "It requires cheap and fast networks."

Workman gives database giant Oracle, and its new Exadata line of storage servers, the early lead.

Oracle juiced up Exadata by integrating its flagship database software into Sun's high-end computer servers, he says.

IBM's acquisition of Netezza, supplier of technology that competes directly against Exadata, came as no surprise to Workman.

Intel and HP likewise remain in shopping mode as they try to "integrate various systems to arrive at a solution that will kick the other guy's butt," Workman says.