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1/22/2008
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Data Warehouse Supplier Greenplum Pulls In $27 Million

The flow of funds shows that investors believe some part of the $20 billion database market is going to shift toward lower cost open source code.

Greenplum, a company capitalizing on the PostgreSQL open source database, received venture capital financing totaling $27 million on Tuesday, 11 months after a $15 million round. The flow of funds reflects how investors believe some part of the $20 billion database market is going to shift toward lower cost open source code.

One of the Greenplum investors is Sun Microsystems. The move is notable because Sun just paid $800 million, plus $200 million in projected options, for a rival open source database company, MySQL AB. Before that purchase, Sun had become a supplier of technical support for open source PostgreSQL and employed several PostgreSQL developers, including Josh Berkus in San Francisco. On the day of Sun's MySQL acquisition, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz called Berkus to tell him that Sun's support of PostgreSQL would continue, Berkus said in a message to Information Week.

Greenplum produces a data warehouse system using PostgreSQL. It engineers PostgreSQL into a massively parallel system that it calls Bizgres MPP and offers as the commercially supported product, the Greenplum Database. Bizgres is available as open source code at Bizgres.org.

Greenplum Database and Sun Microsystem's large scale Thumper storage system have been combined together to form the Sun/Greenplum Data Warehouse Appliance. Thumper is a combination of server hardware and up to 24 terabytes of disk space assembled in four slots of a rack-mount unit -- about 7 inches high. Thumper is also known as the Sun Fire X4500. The leader of the round was Meritech Capital Partners, a late-stage venture capital firm that finances early growth of a company after it has established its technology. Meritech has previously helped finance Facebook, Salesforce.com, and NetSuite.

The other participant was SAP Ventures, a division of SAP AG. SAP is locked into a battle for enterprise application dominance with database vendor Oracle. PostgreSQL is offered by another commercial company, EnterpriseDB, as an Oracle-compatible database system.

Frontier Airlines, the second largest carrier at Denver International Airport, bases its flight management system on Greenplum. CIO Robert Rapp told Information Week in May 2006 that the airline adopted the data warehouse system as "a very economical solution for a mid-sized airline."

Greenplum cites two commercial customers by name on its Web site, in addition to Frontier. One is a unit of Smart Communications, a wireless supplier in the Philippines, which uses the Sun/Greenplum Data Warehouse Appliance. The other is O'Reilly Media, a Sebastopol, Calif., publisher of technology books and Web sites.

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