Through a series of acquisitions and organic development over the last five years, IBM has established itself as a leader in enterprise big data for business analytics. I recently wrote about IBM Smarter Analytics, which brings together the company’s portfolio of software, systems and services from analytics to big data. But supporting big data requires the ability to access many sources of information; our benchmark research on big data found that more than half of organizations require information from external sources, and that requires some software flexibility.
To help meet that challenge, IBM has announced that it will acquire Vivisimo, a company that has been operating for more than 10 years and has over 100 employees and publicly listed customer references including Airbus, LexisNexis, P&G, Schering-Plough and USGS. The majority of its customers use its enterprise search platform Vivisimo Velocity Platform to index and access structured and unstructured big data.
The Vivisimo acquisition is important for IBM because it has not had a substantive search technology for its information management portfolio that can operate across all types of information. Competitively this is critical; the demand for better search has led Oracle to expand its efforts with Oracle Secure Enterprise Search and to acquire Endeca for more depth on structured data. Our benchmark research in business analytics found that searching for specific answers is the top-requested capability in 83 percent of organizations. This finding should highlight the importance of Vivisimo for IBM’s efforts in business analytics, though the software will be integrated by IBM’s information management software division, which focuses more on IT than business.
IBM is positioning Vivisimo as part of its efforts to provide the ability to explore big data stored in internal, external and Internet-based sources. That position makes sense based on IBM’s customers’ needs, but Vivisimo described its product as information optimization for data access and discovery. IBM and Vivisimo discussed its efforts in search-based applications, which is an industry analyst term for software designed to help organizations access and assemble information. But search is just one of many capabilities that combine in the broader context of information applications is something IBM now can add to its portfolio. Our benchmark research on information applications finds that searching for specific answers is the top-ranked requirement for 46 percent of organizations.
Vivisimo provides analytics on text and metadata that can be accessed through its search capabilities. Its focus on scalable but secure search is part of why it became one of the leaders in enterprise search at the high end of the enterprise software market. The software’s security features are critical, as organizations do not want to make it faster for unauthorized users to access information; more than three-fourths (79%) are concerned about data privacy or security breaches, according to our big data benchmark research. Also key is the platform’s flexibility at integrating sources across the enterprise, which supports our research finding that the range of information available must span customer, transactional data, logs, call detail records and plenty of other sources. In addition, Vivisimo supports mobile technologies such as smartphones to make it simpler to get to and access information from any platform.
Along with the Vivisimo acquisition, IBM announced support for Cloudera Hadoop as part of InfoSphere BigInsights. Cloudera continues to grow with its enhanced commercial version of Hadoop. IBM’s expanded support of Hadoop is critical, as our Hadoop and Information Management benchmark research found Hadoop being used in 22 percent of organizations engaged in big data, with another 32 percent evaluating or planning to adopt it. IBM says it is the only provider to support multiple Hadoop distributions today, but actually other companies do, too; Datameer does for analytics, as I just assessed, and Pentaho does for data integration. Also in data integration, Informatica supports Cloudera and other Hadoop technologies.
Acquiring Vivisimo is a smart move for IBM to expand its array of tools for big data and its overall information management portfolio. Considering the lack of enterprise depth from the likes of Google Enterprise Search, IBM’s opportunity is large. Expanding the platform to support other Hadoop distributions, such as Cloudera, is critical, as organizations are thinking about what distribution to place into production, and don’t just automatically use what is freely available from Apache. Having an open framework for its big-data platform is a smart move for IBM, as it lets customers embrace and extend a range of software. By comparison, others, such as Oracle, are focused primarily on supporting their own stacks of technologies. It is a stark difference. If you are considering adding search or Hadoop as part of your big-data efforts, take a look at what IBM is doing.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer