HPE’s Acquisition of MapR Underscores That AI is All About Data

R. Bhattacharyya

Summary Bullets:

• HPE announced plans to acquire MapR, augmenting its data analytics portfolio with proprietary file system technology.

• HPE’s purchase reinforces the message that to derive true value from an artificial intelligence (AI) implementation, enterprises need to master the basics of data management.

Life isn’t always as it seems, and the same can be said of AI. Sure, the sexy parts of AI are the platforms, the algorithms, the APIs, and the use cases. We are enamored with the natural language processing capabilities, the predictive maintenance, the improved decision making, and the ability to provide a more personalized customer experience. But there is also the intrigue. The seedy underbelly of AI is comprised of the ethical concerns that reveal the potential dark sides of the technology. What if models result in unfair bias against a specific gender or race? What about privacy concerns? What if it’s used for destructive rather than constructive purposes?

And then there is also the more mundane aspect of AI, which is that to derive true value from an AI implementation, enterprises need to master the basics of data management. Whether the deployment is in the cloud, on-premises, or at the edge, the ability to unlock the insights hidden within an enterprise’s treasure trove of data requires effective tools. And this is the assumption behind HPE’s analytics-related acquisitions, the most recent one being its purchase of MapR.

Although some may question HPE’s foray into the analytics space given its fits and starts, and ultimate divestitures, in other adjacent areas, such as services and software, the move complements its recent efforts in IoT, edge computing, and supercomputing. These emerging areas require much more than the hardware and infrastructure that forms the foundation of HPE’s brand and business. In order for enterprises to be truly successful with these new technologies they need to implement an ecosystem that can manage information securely, apply the technology to their business in a way that meets industry-specific regulatory requirements, and effectively act on the insights that are uncovered. Gathering the tools to support the various parts of the ecosystem is a complex process; bundled solutions go a long way in speeding enterprise adoption.

HPE is compiling the components that will  create more compelling bundles. It acquired Aruba Networks in 2015, Nimble Storage in 2017, Niara in 2017, and Blue Data at the end of last year. MapR augments its data analytics portfolio with proprietary file system technology. And where HP can’t acquire expertise, it is partnering. For example it has a longstanding partnership with Accenture. The two industry leaders have brought to market what are designed to be holistic solutions, such as Intelligent Edge, a bundled edge computing offer comprising of analytics, infrastructure, networking equipment, and industry-specific applications. Enhanced data management and analytics capabilities, such as those from MapR, would make their jointly-offered solutions even more attractive.


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