IBM continues to invest in its Big Data portfolio, today announcing it will acquire Canadian grid management software vendor Platform Computing. But the company has yet to make a concerted effort to educate the open source Hadoop community about its significant Big Data portfolio.
First, the news: Platform Computing, based in Toronto, specializes in software that helps enterprises deploy and manage distributed computing environments, including private clouds and otherwise highly virtualized data centers. Distributed computing is also the infrastructure of choice in many Big Data deployments, most notably Hadoop.
I expect IBM will position Platform Computing’s software as a tool to help customers more easily deploy and manage distributed computing infrastructures needed to support Big Data deployments. There’s definitely a need for better Big Data management capabilities to overcome adoption barriers.
Big picture, IBM is taking a two-pronged approach to Big Data. Its Big Insights platform is based on the Apache Hadoop distribution and is aimed at processing, storing and analyzing petabytes of unstructured and semi-structured historical data. InfoSphere Streams, meanwhile, is designed to quickly ingest high-velocity data for real-time Big Data analytics.
IBM’s significant hardware resources and its large and growing business analytics portfolio, which includes Cognos, SPSS, Netezza and InfoSphere Warehouse, supplement both platforms. IBM told me in a recent briefing that Big Insights can be deployed in public, private or hybrid cloud environments. Platform’s software should make this job easier for both IBM and customers.
IBM has a long track record of operating high performance computing environments, its services division is second to none, and, from what I have seen, its Big Data portfolio is among the most comprehensive on the market. But I’m still waiting for IBM to make a stronger case for its Big Data portfolio to the Hadoop developer community. It’s gained some traction among C-Level Execs with its Smarter Planet campaign and won some headlines when Watson bested two former Jeopardy! champs, but I don’t hear a lot of IBM talk among the Hadoop developers and engineers I’ve spoken to over the last six months.
Perhaps IBM is still developing its strategy for working with an open source project or maybe the company is struggling to stitch together the many moving parts of its Big Data and business analytics portfolios into a seamless offering. Whatever the reason, IBM needs to act fast if it wants to get in on the Big Data spoils and not be left behind by smaller, nimbler competitors Cloudera and Hortonworks. Hadoop developers and engineers are making decisions today that will help determine which Hadoop distributions and vendors win tomorrow. The clock’s ticking.