CRN Interview: IBM's Ambuj Goyal

Ambuj Goyal, general manager of IBM's Information Management group, talked with CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow last week about the group's new free database and IBM's view that information management is much more than databases. Goyal started his new gig in August. He had previously headed the IBM/Lotus group responsible for portals and collaboration tools.

CRN: Before we get to the broader picture, what's the rationale behind the new free dB2?

Goyal: It's a high volume play. It's important that our business partners and developers across the world not have to go thru a procurement process to even try out the new stuff we have. We wanted to make their life much easier.

People can now just go to the Web. We expect with any Web download to get some interesting names [competitors etc.].

I have no problem, the more the merrier. Because this is an amazing technology and people are having a tough time getting their hands and arms around it.

Sponsored post

CRN: Are you talking about the Viper version or the current DB2?

Goyal: Viper is just the name of the next database. This is Express, which is easier to download, easier to install and play with and is upgradeable to enterprise versions.

CRN: If I am an ISV can I embed this database without a runtime fee?

Goyal: My view is you can do with it whatever you want. The terms and conditions of the license are fairly generous.

CRN: What's the status of Viper?

Goyal: Viper is in beta and doing extremely well. We showed it at the Analyst Forum the first week in December where we introduced the beta and talked about the native store with significant performance improvement and schema mapping capabilities.

CRN: What's the time table?

Goyal: It's now in beta and still to be released this summer. [2006]

CRN: Some third parties are doing some interesting stuff around database virtualization, taking clustering across WANs etc. Do you see opportunity here for add-on companies to come in?

Goyal: We are finding a lot of partners in forms processing, one being Just Systems in Japan, or [other] partners who are embedding our capabilities in their environments, they see Express-C as a good opportunity.

CRN: Is there a sustainable model for these third parties? In forms processing for example, IBM just bought PureEdge. Is the only successful model for an ISV now getting by a bigger company?

Goyal: Not really. The forms company we bought is about paper-like forms and paper-like processes. There are many companies doing domain-specific forms around content. Just Systems in Japan, one of the largest providers of desktop software, word processing, and they want desktop forms. Rather than choosing to create their own file system and management environment, they build on native XML.

CRN: For systems integrator and VARS, what are the opportunities in this free database and then maybe for full Viper?

Goyal: The opportunity has only extended. The class of applications originally was large to mid enterprises, where they had to go through the procurement process with IBM. With Express-C they can go much lower in the market range. Even to smaller companies[ it's a 390 Mbyte database that can be downloaded and embedded in any application.

CRN: Do you see this as a competitor to MySQL?

Goyal: I want to be clear, our customers are asking for access to the technology. No other vendor has the capabilities like the Starburst compiler…and the ability to handle non- hierarchical database…the technologies we've invested in for 16 years, in query optimization and management, scalabily, security. That technology is not easily accessible to developers and small enterprises.

Everyone has to go through a procurement process. Our job is to make that much easier.

There is a support option for larger implementations and move to other versions as the next step.

CRN: What are you seeing generally in the competitive field, now that Microsoft Yukon has shipped and we've had a few years of Oracle 10g.

Goyal: First of all, database is a fairly mature market, growing at about five to six per cent a year and that number keeps getting shifted downwards. In that space we compete with Microsoft and Oracle typically. Information management is way beyond the means of just relational databases. If you take a look at content management market, which is also in the info management space, that is growing 8 or 9 percent, much faster than database repositories. In that space we compete against Documentum and FileNet, but not Oracle and Microsoft.

The next thing happening in information management is that information today is tied up into repositories, into applications and systems, but ask a line-of-business exec or CEO, they will say custom information from across the enterprise is not available to optimized business processes, customer care and employment productivity needs. It needs to be freed up. It needs to be seen in context.

The success of repositories in applications yields a new problem in the enterprise. Seventy percent of line-of-business execs and CEOs--survey after survey says the same thing. Now we have invested in freeing up that info, this is about meta data management, about integration, semantic reconciliation, master data management. At the end of the day, this is the next need of customers.

In meta data management and integration we do not typically see Microsoft, Oracle, Documentum and Filenet. There we compete with Informatica. In information warehousing, we compete against Teradata and others. In master data management, the next competitor has maybe 20 to 30 customers.

What's happening now is we are delivering complete information management needs to the enterprise. In databases, we're either number one or two In new licenses, we are number one. In maintenance revenue stream we are number two. New licenses is where the new traction is.

In content management, we're number one with over 13,000 customers. In databases we have 450,000 customers. In information integration, freeing up information, over 5,000 customers, we are number one. In master data management, where where we reconcile information in context, we are number one, with over 1,000 customers. In each case we are number one or number 2. No other vendor delivers that.

We do not have to escape into ERP to grow our revenue.

CRN: IBM Software has said they're a better partner for ISVs because athey don&'t' get into apps. Some might argue that Informatica is an ISV. Where do you draw the line?

Let me back up a bit on ERP. If you take a look at fourth quarter published IBM numbers, a number talked about was 4 percent growth for information management software, that includes the complete portfolio. If you don't take currency adjustment into account, the growth [of IBM's information management group] was in double digits. That's typically what others report. We adjust for currency.

CRN: You do not count Lotus in information management, right?

Goyal: Right. Not counting Louts applications.

One of our biggest supporters over last four years is SAP …unsurprisingly so. They are working with us…The reason is two fold. There is a business reason but the real reason is we have worked very hard with SAP for six years to optimize our database for SAP. In 2005 we announced an optimized database for SAP [and because of that] customers are seeing 30 to 50 percent reduction in capacity requirements in their SAP installations. [This is] not just because of database software but because a typical SAP application requires 30 to 50 percent less capacity [and the] deep integration of our data technology inside SAP reduces the number of DBAs needed. So total cost of ownership is significantly lower. A customer spending millions of dollars on SAP installation can suddenly see that many projects he wanted to do but couldn't, he can now do them. It's because of hard work we've done together.

This is what we are doing with ISV after ISV—improve integration and joint delivery into market. Customers are not looking for technology integration, they're looking for end business value.

CRN: The obvious question in the past is would you do what you've done for SAP for PeopleSoft and Siebel now that they're part of Oracle?

Goyal: We have openly offered to Oracle and will continue to work with Peoplesoft and Siebel [applications]… we were already doing it.

CRN: But is there a version of DB2 optimized for Siebel and Peoplesoft?

Goyal: We have always been working with them. These things are continuously being done. The question is Oracle has made up its mind based on industry pressure, they'll at least continue to support our WebSphere application and have left the decision about database open. And they're getting an amazing amount of pressure from customers ….They've indicated they'll continue to support current [PeopleSoft and JD Edwards] applications till 2013. [Editor's note: The lion's share of JD Edwards applications run on IBM.]

CRN: But you introduced DB2 optimized SAP? Is there such a thing for Siebel and Peoplesoft?

Goyal: We were in the process of doing TCO assessment. We have done the work and were in the process.

CRN: There has been marked change in Larry Ellison's rhetoric on IBM. He's not slamming you as much.

Goyal: One more time, our objective is not competition. Their objective is to slam, our objective is to meet the needs of the customer. There was value in delivering an SAP optimized database, there's value in delivering Lawson-optimized database, there's value in delivering, Dynix optimized database, there's value in an Iron Mountain-optimized content manager, Silicon Plains-optimized content manager. There's value in delivering Teradata optimized information integration. There is value for the customer. We do all of those things. My point to you is we're about value to the customer, and if our competition wants to focus on us rather than their customers, fine with me

CRN: Should we expect to see from you guys, within the mext 12 months, new DB2 SKUs for PeopleSoft version X or is that still to be determined?

Goyal: I cannot talk about the future, but everything that we've done to optimize for one ISV turns out to be useful across the board.

CRN: Is there to your knowledge a group at Oracle working on DB2 optimization of Peoplesoft?

Goyal: I would like to take this conversation to the next step. In typical database software, 20 percent of our business comes from custom app development. Even if all the databases under Peoplesoft, Siebel, SAP were IBM, from an installation management perspective it would be less than five percent of IBM's information management business. By focusing so much on one or two ISVs, we are not presenting the complete view of information management. It's a very small part of the overall business.

There are an amazing number of people who do custom app development, an amazing number who run content management, there's amazing focus on meta data management because database management is a commodity. The point I want to make, what we were just talking about is not a commodity battle that the whole information management business depends upon. It's far bigger. Yes, we'll fight the battle for ISVs, but that's a commodity fight, a small portion of our business…

CRN: What should we expect from your group at the Partnerworld show next month?

Goyal: Expect to hear about amazing momentum around information management, no vendor is growing faster that delivers the complete opportunity from database to content management to information integration to master data management.

CRN: The issue with IBM and partners overall, is that large integrators view IBM Global Services as a competitor and have to weigh that. In your group how do you overcome resistance among partners who have Microsoft telling them they're better off partnering with Microsoft because it does not have a huge services arm?

Goyal: As long as partners remain at a 50,000 feet level, that's a great argument. When a partner truly understands how we work with them, whether they are in services, Ascendant, Perficient, Chordiant, they'll tell you we have a great tradition of partnering.

CRN: Will you preview Viper at PartnerWorld?

Goyal: We already did all previews…starting in November and at the show we will show not only the database but discovery services, how to discover risk and compliance issues and content. We'll show you the native release of our meta data management and master data management capabilities, information as a service.

CRN: When you say meta data management, you mean Ascential stuff?

Goyal: Yes. Metadata management has been about managing things that are static. What's missing in the sense that information is changing every day. Sources are changing every day. New usesare invented every day. Metadata management proactively manages that…

The technology we've previewed is about proactive data management, about enterprises taking back control of information assets and managing them over long period rather than it being a point-in-time project. It's technology that came from Ascential, some was organically develeloped, and some leveraged from partners.

Websphere MetaStage is out there, and that's about information integration only, not about collective meta data management.

CRN: This whole notion of proactive meta data management….

Goyal: This is the Hawk Project we've previewed in analyst meeting.