Through a series of acquisitions as well as organic development over the last five years, IBM has established itself as a leader in enterprise software for big data and business analytics. IBM’s Smarter Analytics combines the company’s portfolio of software, systems and services in areas ranging from analytics to big data. However, supporting big data also 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, the acquisition and use of which requires some software flexibility. To help meet that challenge, IBM recently acquired enterprise search provider Vivisimo. Along with the Vivisimo acquisition, IBM announced support for Cloudera Hadoop as part of InfoSphere BigInsights, expanding its access to cover more distributions of the open source software. For organizations considering adding search or Hadoop to their big-data efforts, a look at what IBM is doing could prove useful.
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. Our benchmark research on information applications finds that searching for specific answers is the top-ranked requirement for 46 percent of organizations. As well, our research on Hadoop and information management found Hadoop being used by 22 percent of organizations engaged in big data, with another 32 percent evaluating or planning to adopt it. Cloudera continues to grow with its enhanced commercial version of Hadoop. IBM’s expanded support of Hadoop will benefit both companies.
IBM is positioning Vivisimo as part of its efforts to enable customers to explore big data stored in internal, external and Internet-based sources. Vivisimo’s text and metadata analytics are accessible through its search capabilities. Our benchmark research on business analytics found that searching for specific answers is the top-requested capability in more than four in five (83%) organizations. The way that IBM is positioning Vivisimo makes sense based on its customers’ needs, but search is just one of many information application capabilities that IBM now can add to its portfolio.
Vivisimo’s focus on scalable but secure search helped it become one of the leaders in search at the high end of the enterprise software market. The software’s security features are critical, as organizations do not want to give unauthorized users rapid or easy access to information. Four-fifths of organizations (79%) are concerned about data privacy or security breaches, according to our big data research. The platform’s flexibility in integrating sources across the enterprise is also key, satisfying our research finding that information access must span customer and transactional data, logs, call detail records and other sources. Vivisimo also supports mobile technologies such as smartphones to make it simpler to access information from any location.
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. This move highlights the importance of Vivisimo for IBM’s efforts in business analytics, even though the software will be integrated into IBM’s information management software division, which focuses more on IT than business. IBM says it is the only provider to support multiple Hadoop distributions today, but other companies do as well. For example, Datameer does so for analytics, and Pentaho does so for data integration. Informatica also supports Cloudera and other Hadoop technologies for data integration.
Acquiring Vivisimo is a smart move for IBM, enabling it to expand its array of tools for big data and its overall information management portfolio. Considering the lack of enterprise reach in tools such as Google Enterprise Search, IBM has an opportunity to gain market share. Expanding the platform to support other Hadoop distributions such as Cloudera is also critical as organizations consider which distribution to place into production. Having an open framework for its big data platform is another 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 technology stacks. Organizations in need of new tools for exploring big data in an open framework should consider IBM’s new portfolio.