What Is More Stunning: the Lack of Analysis or the Blatant Boosterism?

VP Product Management & Marketing

This is what greeted me on my return from the IBM Information On Demand show in Las Vegas, like an early “Trick or Treat” gift on the cusp of Halloween. On Thursday, our good friends at Oracle had launched a new ad in their “traditional spot” at the bottom of page one of the Wall Street Journal (in photo at right). And on catching the ad in the morning, our receptionist Maureen had had the great good sense not to pollute our lobby by putting the paper out in the waiting area.


And both Netezza and Teradata figured prominently in the ad. “Stunning,” it said. “Wiped the floor,” it said. “300x faster,” it said. And all from a report by the reputable Wall Street firm, Piper Jaffray. Now exactly what was all this about? It wasn’t a question of “if” our friends from Redwood Shores were stretching the truth, but exactly “how.”

Our first step was to secure a copy of Piper Jaffray’s report. By Friday afternoon we had it in hand, a quick perusal revealed its depth of “analysis.” My synopsis: shallow. I was prepared to “let it go” but our California friends doubled-down on using the WSJ ad on page 1 again last week, so here are a few thoughts.

The report is based on a set of apparently exhausting interviews with “several” Oracle customers; arranged for the Piper Jaffray analysts’ benefit by Oracle, bless their hearts. It is primarily composed of 2+ pages of quotes, with neither context nor attribution, from those conversations – indeed there’s no disclosure of exactly how many Oracle customers were interviewed.

Elements of the analysis inviting scrutiny include:

  • Oracle’s reluctance to ship systems to customers’ data centers for customers rather than Oracle staff to test head-to-head with competitors like Netezza and Teradata signals an incredibly robust deal flow (Ockham’s Razor be damned);
  • How an Oracle-selected customer in the interview cycle saying, “Exadata is just a RAC cluster on steroids. Something that won’t run well in a RAC cluster is not likely to run well on Exadata,” can be taken as “Feature Set Strength”;
  • Accepting unsubstantiated 3rd party hearsay at face value and then printing it as fact that Exadata had somehow “wiped the floor” in detailed testing with anyone.

It’s unsurprising that Oracle chose to cherry-pick quotes for their ad. Truth be told I might have done the same – and did so for the items I listed above. So now they are plastering this rag- tag collection of unattributed quotes from specially-selected customers as “evidence” of their strengths versus Netezza and Teradata.

I’m not sure what’s more transparent about this report – the dearth of real analysis on which it was based, or its blatant boosterism.

But at least they were transparent about one detail:

“Disclosures: Piper Jaffray was making a market in the securities of Oracle Corporation at the time this research report was published. Piper Jaffray will buy and sell Oracle Corporation securities on a principal basis.“

In a word, stunning.

Editor’s Note: Dozens of satisfied Netezza customers talk "on the record" about how they are winning with Netezza -- on the Netezza YouTube channel.

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