The Big Data Review: Autonomy, AlStor and the Political Angle

Big dataIn spite of a slow news week during the holiday, several noteworthy items crossed the wire despite Thanksgiving 2012.

Firstly, WANdisco announced that it’s buying AltoStor for $5 million.  WANdisco makes proprietary clustering software for Fortune 500 companies, but it developed an interest in open-source and is an active contributor to the Apache community.

It’s unclear what AltoStor was working on prior to the acquisition, but the founders’ background does spark one’s curiosity: Konstantin Shvachko and  Jagane Sundar  among the co-creators of the Hadoop  big data framework, and have held senior technical positions at Yahoo and eBay.

Hewlett-Packard also had a big M&A update, although it’s anything but positive. The company disclosed during its earnings call that it was forced to pick up an $8.8 billion tab for Autonomy, the British analytics firm it acquired for over $10 billion last year.  HP’s stock plummeted to its lowest point in a decade shortly after CEO Meg Whitman broke the news to investors, but the back story is only now starting to unfold. The vendor is accusing Autonomy’s former management of fraud, prompting HP to release its own version of the story in a statement this week, and legal action will likely be taken by one or more of the many parties involved.

Meanwhile at the Democratic National Committee, lobbyists are getting serious about big data.  According to a recent report Democrats will try to emulate the success of the information-driven Obama campaign during next year’s gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.

On the other side of the Atlantic, European lawmakers are pushing a new proposition that aims to make a drastic impact on data retention in an effort to protect users’ privacy. An official assessment labeled the initial draft “impractical”, but companies such as Google and Facebook are already under heavy scrutiny from the EU over their privacy policies.