IBM is snapping up yet another business analytics player. After purchasing OpenPages last week, Big Blue is now laying down $1.7 billion in an all-cash deal to acquire Netezza (NZ).
Netezza provides high-performance analytics in a data warehousing appliance that claims to handle complex analytic queries 10 to 100 times faster than traditional systems. Netezza appliances puts analytics into the hands of business users in sales, marketing, product development, human resources and other departments that need actionable insights to drive decision-making.
With its latest business analytics acquisition, Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM Software and Systems, says the company is bringing analytics to the masses.
“We continue to evolve our capabilities for systems integration, bringing together optimized hardware and software, in response to increasing demand for technology that delivers true business value,” Mills says. “Netezza is a perfect example of this approach.”
Big Blue’s Long Haul
Netezza fits in with IBM’s maturing business analytics strategy. Big Blue has long put an emphasis on data analysis and business intelligence (BI) as key drivers of IT infrastructure needs. The company has demonstrated a clear understanding that data analysis and BI can also be easily applied to business issues.
IBM’s relationship database, DB2, also fits into the big picture. Over the years, IBM has built a strong family of database-driven products around DB2. Essentially, IBM has successfully worked to tie the data equation together with the needs of enterprises and the strength of their IT departments.
While DB2 reaches into the past and supports the data needs of legacy and distributed systems and applications, new architectures around in-memory and optimized platforms for persistence-driven tasks are in vogue. While Netezza's strengths are in analytics, this architecture has other uses, ones we'll be seeing more of.
Fast-forward to the Netezza acquisition. The $1.7 billion grab shows that IBM is well aware that big data sets don’t lend themselves to traditional architecture for crunching data. IBM, along with its competitors, has been developing or acquiring new architectures that focus more on in-memory solutions.
Rather than moving the entire database or large caches around on disk or tape, then, new architectures have emerged where the data and logic reside closer together -- and the data is accessed from high-performing persistence.
For example, with Netezza appliances, NYSE Euronext has slashed the time it takes to load and extract massive amounts of historical data so it can run analytic queries more securely and efficiently, while reducing run times from hours to seconds. Virgin Media (NASDAQ:VMED), a UK provider of TV, broadband, phone and mobile services with millions of subscribers, uses Netezza across its product marketing, revenue assurance and credit services departments to proactively plan, forecast, and respond to the effect of pricing and tariff changes, enabling them to quickly respond with competitive offerings.
Business analytics consolidation
With the Netezza acquisition, the business analytics market is seeing consolidation as major players begin preparing to tap into a growing big data opportunity. Much the same as the BI market saw consolidation a few years ago -- IBM acquired Cognos, Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) bought Hyperion, and SAP snapped up Business Objects -- vendors are now seeing big data analytics as an area that should be embedded into the total infrastructure of solutions. That requires a different architecture.
The competition is heating up. EMC purchased Greenplum, an enabler of big data clouds and self-service analytics, in July. Both companies are planning to sell the hardware and software together in appliances. The vendors tune and optimize the hardware and software to offer the benefits of big data crunching, taking advantage of in-memory architecture and high performance hardware.
Expect to see more consolidation, although there aren’t too many players left in the Netezza space. Acquisition candidates include data management and analysis software company Aster Data Systems and Teradata (NYSE:TDC) with its enterprise analytics technologies, among others.
Meanwhile, Oracle this week at OpenWorld is pushing against the market with its new Exadata product. The battle is on. My take is that these purchases are for more than the engines that drive analytics -- they are for the engines that drive SaaS, cloud, mobile, web and what we might call the more modern work loads ... data intensive, high-scaling, fast-changing and services-oriented.
Disclosure: Aster Data is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.