Pivotal goes all-in with open source in Big Data Suite

Enterprises demand it because they're taking a more active role in software development, Pivotal says

Bowing to customer pressure, enterprise software and services vendor Pivotal will release as open source the remainder of its software suite for analyzing data.

"Our customers want to be involved in our road map, because they know that is the only way they can differentiate themselves from their competitors," said Sundeep Madra, Pivotal vice president of products. He was referring to how enterprises are taking an increasingly active hand in developing the software they use.

Pivotal will open-source its Greenplum analytics database, its GemFire NoSQL database and Hawq, which is software that provides a way to analyze Hadoop data sets with SQL (Structured Query Language).

They are all included in Pivotal's Big Data Suite, a bundle of Pivotal software products available under a subscription license. The Big Data Suite is based on the Apache Hadoop data processing platform, which was already available as open source.

Enterprises can use different components within the bundle to analyze data and learn more about their customers and their operations, allowing them to better market and develop new products and run more efficiently. Hulu, Southwest Airlines, and Indian Railways have all used components within the Big Data Suite to this end.

Launched in 2014, the Big Data Suite has generated more than $40 million in subscription fees for Pivotal.

Pivotal has already released as open source its software for providing platform services, called Cloud Foundry, and it has been pleased with the results. So it makes sense to use the same approach for its data analytics portfolio, Madra said.

More enterprises require open-source software for a variety of reasons, Pivotal says.

For one thing, customers don't want to be locked into using proprietary products, which would allow the vendor to dictate pricing terms once the customer is dependent on the software.

Open source also allows the organization to have a hand in the software's future direction. A company can dedicate engineers to making sure that a feature it needs will be included in the next version. And using open source allows enterprises to customize the software to offer features that their competitors don't have.

"This is a big change. Smaller companies like Uber are able to own their platforms through and through. They build them up from open source. They are not buying somebody else's technologies," Madra said.

Also on Monday, Pivotal added new open-source software packages to the Big Data Suite, including the Spark data processing platform, the RabbitMQ messaging service, and the Redis data store.

Pivotal did not reveal pricing of the Big Data Suite, other than to say it is available in one-year and three-year subscriptions and that the price is based on the number of processor cores that run the software.

Gemfire and Hawq will be open-sourced under an Apache Software Foundation license. Because Greenplum is a variant of the PostgreSQL open-source database, Pivotal will work with the PostgreSQL community to determine the best licensing model for that software, Madra said.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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