IBM has ventured even deeper into the world of “Big Data” with its acquisition of Platform Computing, a Canadian software outfit that builds tools for managing the large computing clusters so often used to crunch the vast amounts of unstructured data generated by modern businesses.
Platform specializes in the use of Hadoop, an open source software platform based on Google’s backend infrastructure. “A number of the Hadoop vendors are not that deep. But Platform Computing is,” Jim Kobelius, an analyst with research outfit Forrester, told Wired, before pointing out that IBM’s Jeopardy-playing Watson supercomputer is built atop the open-source platform. “I think IBM is serious about [Hadoop], and I see a lot of potential for better big data management with this acquisition.”
Over the last five years, IBM has invested more than $14 billion in firms that offer business-centric analytics tools, and just last week, Big Blue announced a new suite of analytics tools spanning its Tivoli and WebSphere software families.
Today’s announcement signals that the company will continue into the murky — but potentially lucrative — waters of unstructured data. According to analyst group IDC, the market opportunity, including hardware, will reach $14 billion in 2011, before growing over 8 percent annually to $18.5 billion by 2014.
“IBM considers the acquisition of Platform Computing to be a strategic element for the transformation of [high-performance computing] into the high growth segment of technical computing and an important part of our smarter computing strategy,” said Helene Armitage, general manager, IBM Systems Software in a canned statement.
“This acquisition can be leveraged across IBM as we enhance our IBM offerings and solutions, providing clients with technology that helps draw insights to fuel critical business decisions or breakthrough science.”
According to the press release, Platform Computing currently “serves” over 2,000 clients, including 23 of the top 30 largest global enterprises.
Big Blue isn’t alone in efforts to tame the very big Big Data market. Last Monday, HP completed the purchase of Autonomy, a British analytics firm, for $12 billion. At its massive OpenWorld conference last week, Oracle announced a “Big Data Appliance” designed to analyze unstructured data using Hadoop. And countless other companies are putting their weight behind Hadoop, including all-star startup Cloudera and Yahoo! spin-off HortonWorks.