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Some Thoughts On The News In Big Data, The Cloud And Technical Computing

|Includes:ADBE, DELL, HPQ, NVDA, Oracle Corporation (ORCL)

Much of great interest to Tech investors has coursed through the news in recent days. First, the earnings releases of Adobe and Oracle cast light from two directions on the adoption of Cloud Computing broadly and, more specifically, software demand. Tibco, set to release later today, waits in the wings. At yet another leading edge, Nvidia used its Graphics Technology Conference to articulate not only its Graphics leadership, but the opportunity it has to leverage its technology in Mobile, Enterprise and Technical Computing. Finally, the behemoths HP and Dell are advancing distinct responses to the significant shift wrought in personal computing by the rise of Tablets and Smartphones, even as we acknowledge the negative impact on the PC market is intensifying. And in the noise that accompanies this shift, the silence of Intel on its search to replace Paul Otellini is deafening.

Having dramatically missed aggressive guidance with last night's earnings release, Oracle sees its stock down 5-10% today. I have yet to dig into the call and have only sampled the chatter. I am eager to get a better read on the size and growth rate of Oracle's Cloud offering. Adobe's results were better than expected, fueled by the rapid adoption of its Creative Cloud offering. Subscriptions grew 153,000, well above analysts' expectations.

Regarding another aspect of Oracle's results: that hardware is down 23% is striking. Having lost its suit against HP over Itanium support last summer, Oracle should approach the damages review with trepidation and even contrition. The company brazenly displayed baser instincts using Itanium support as a cudgel to promote its Sun server business; the damage to HP's Enterprise server business has been significant. I will readily acknowledge that the damage was no doubt intensified by the fact that sufficient capacity exists in high-end, deep computing. Yes, weak demand is broadly affecting this market. That said, the applications that require high-end servers are not going away, they just aren't growing. The market remains and the economic damage to HP's business must be accounted for. Note that HP's consulting economist has sized the impact at $4.0 to $4.5 billion.

Of course, growth in computing is now squarely centered in the Internet, Big Data and the Cloud, each of which continues to redefine our individual relationships with computing. Much of the data we generate is aggregated over the web, whether it concern our online shopping preferences, our work research, or our social interactions. Key then are the hardware and software solutions that allow companies to derive economic value from the analysis of this data.

In this regard, Nvidia's GTC was particularly interesting for some of the new directions it is identifying in its offering. The roadmaps it offered for its Graphics and Application Processors showed great promise, assuming it meets some significant technology challenges as well. (Feel free to write with questions.) Three additional press releases suggest the company has strong moves planned in new markets as well, though they trace an origin to the technologies Nvidia has developed around the use of its GPUs as accelerators and co-processors in High Performance (i.e., Super) Computing.

In the first of these releases, Nvidia has announced that its GPUs are being used in Big Data Analytics to more efficiently analyze especially large data sets. Shazam and Cortexica are using GPU Accelerators to track song and image consumption, while is using GPU CUDA to track Tweets. Less clear, though clearly of interest, are the platforms used for this purpose. In a similar vein, Nvidia announced the adoption of its GRID technology by leading Technology vendors, including (in hardware) HP, Dell and IBM, and (in software) Citrix, Microsoft, and VMWare. I find this intriguing and am eager to learn more about the potential for this apparently new platform. Perhaps telling is the third announcement on Nvdia's establishment of a Visual Computing Alliance that is based on a 4U appliance with 16 GPUs that runs Adobe, Dessault and Autodesk applications supporting up to 16 concurrent users. This appliance could be disruptive to the technical computing market.

In every way, these announcements are very ambitious. And they will require additional analysis as time permits.

And regarding time, the bell is ringing here and it is time to move from this blog to my other work. My comment on HP and Dell will have to wait, regrettably. I welcome questions, comments and insights.