HP nabs Wal-Mart as data warehousing customer

Retailer will use HP's Neoview technology to analyze data from its 4,000 stores

Hewlett-Packard Co. on Wednesday announced that Wal-Mart Stores Inc., operator of one of the world's largest data warehouses, plans to use HP's new Neoview data warehouse appliance to analyze data collected from its 4,000 retail stores.

The Neoview offering, which began shipping in October, integrates data warehousing hardware, software and services. HP developed it as part of an internal effort to consolidate more than 700 data marts into an enterprise data warehouse.

Nancy Stewart, Wal-Mart's chief technology officer, said in a statement that the HP partnership "is part of a continued effort to drive innovation into every facet of Wal-Mart's business and IT operations."

Wal-Mart has long used data warehousing technology from NCR Corp.'s Teradata's subsidiary, but the announcement did not say whether the HP technology would augment or replace that technology.

Wal-Mart did not respond immediately to requests for more information on how the Neoview purchase will affect the Teradata installation.

John Miller, senior director of marketing for BI in HP Software, said that the Neoview technology would not replace the Teradata data warehousing technology, “at least not yet or not today.” Neoview, however, will be taking an increasing part of Wal-Mart’s data warehousing “footprint over time,” that would have gone to Teradata, he added. The Neoview addition was an “upgrade avoidance” decision, Miller said.

"As Wal-Mart continues to expand their BI footprint ...  they had a purchase decision to make, and that decision went to Neoview, which would have otherwise gone to Teradata," Miller said. "It was just sheer dollars and cents. We offered a better TCO."

He also added that scalability and Neoview’s focus on operational BI – embedding analysis in employee processes – were key factors in Wal-Mart’s decision.

Miller declined to divulge the value of its contract with Wal-Mart. The Neoview technology has been in production since early June.

Wayne Eckerson, director of research at The Data Warehousing Institute in Seattle, said he doubted that Neoview will replace Teradata.

He also noted that Randall Mott, HP's executive vice president and CIO and a former CIO of Wal-Mart, has "political clout, and that HP has the resources to give Wal-Mart a good deal to give Neoview a kick start. "Wal-Mart is big enough to throw some money to HP to try out a new platform for a new requirement," Eckerson said.

HP announced its entry into the business intelligence arena in January with the formation of the Business Information Optimization unit in its HP Software division. The new unit oversees HP's business intelligence and information management offerings.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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