At its annual IBM Information on Demand 2012 (IOD) and Business Analytics Forum, IBM unleashed a broad range of news concerning big data and analytics. It showcased its recently announced IBM PureData System appliance, which provides an engineering system for analytics and transactions and is part of what IBM calls IBM PureSystems. Appliances are one of the most desired technologies planned for big data according to our benchmark research. With this announcement, IBM highlights its branding and provides more market presence as a way to compete with vendors such as Oracle and Teradata who have already announced appliance offerings.
The PureData System for Analytics expands on the IBM Netezza appliance and provides embedded processing capabilities for more than 200 analytic functions. It’s not clear, however, how the IBM business analytics products take advantage of the appliance and provide a “better together” approach. Connecting big data and business analytics is critical; according to our big data research, what-if analysis, predictive analytics and visualization are top priorities for which IBM has products. IBM offers these, but should provide more guidance on how its application software can integrate with both the appliance and the latest releases of its database technologies.
Speaking of databases, IBM provided details on its latest IBM DB2 10 release and talked about how it has advanced for temporal data management, compression and optimization. It also provided a case study on how Coca-Cola switched from Oracle to IBM to save more than a million dollars. In addition, IBM revealed more detail on its IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator, which increases the volume and velocity of queries the database can handle and eliminates query tuning. Aetna was on stage talking about the significant gain it found in processing. Building on top of the database processing is the recent release of IBM InfoSphere Information Server 9.1, which includes optimized integration with Hadoop, InfoSphere Streams and big data job sequencing. It also provides InfoSphere Data Click to simplify retrieval of data for business use. With expanded metadata management support and support for policies and rules for data governance, this release is an important step forward for meeting a broad range of information management needs. IBM also furthered its IBM InfoSphere BigInsights product to help analyze very large volumes of information and presented its InfoSphere Data Explorer, which has evolved from its acquisition of Vivisimo, which I recently assessed.
In the business analytics realm IBM demonstrated how simple IBM Cognos Insight Personal Edition is. It can be downloaded in more than 20 languages from IBM’s Analytics Zone site, and is free for personal use. It supports a range of dynamic import and automatic analytic setup from Excel and other files. Its visualization coach can recommend what type of chart to use to best present a particular set of data. Its simplicity to set up and use help earn IBM Cognos Insight our 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for Business Intelligence.
IBM also announced a forthcoming service called Analytic Answers within the IBM SmartCloud. It will allow organization to send data to an online service and get intelligent results. This should help organizations apply technology to data and share the results, without requiring in-house skill sets in advanced analytics.
On the outer edges of placing intelligence into business systems, IBM highlighted the progress Watson was making in banking at Citigroup and in healthcare at WellPoint. IBM executive Steve Mills also mentioned that in 2013 it would be used in customer service and contact centers. You can learn more about IBM Watson and Cognitive Systems on our site; we recently awarded this technology the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for Overall Operational Innovation.
IBM has been delivering big data products for some time. Now, with an elevated focus on the PureData System and its portfolio of business analytics, I expect to hear more from the company on how its hardware and software will work better together, and maybe even see an appliance that has more of its analytics software built into the technology. With a larger presence and using the big data umbrella for its products, IBM is poised to ensure it is considered by any customer interested in the range of big data technologies it might be examining.
CEO & Chief Research Officer