Managing all the data generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) is both a daunting task and a tremendous opportunity. The company that does it well, first, and for the right reasons could have an unprecedented ability to impact the world in a positive way.

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) wants to be that company and it believes that adding big data analytics capabilities to its portfolio is key. So it goes to follow that today it announced its intent to acquire BI vendor Pentaho, which is best known for its big data platform that simplifies preparing and blending all types of data and includes a spectrum of tools that enable users to easily analyze, visualize, explore, report insights and predict outcomes.

A Very Big Deal?

Though the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, a representative of Pentaho says it is “the largest private big data acquisition transaction to date." The representative suggested that the the claim is based on other acquisitions in the same space namely Salesforce’s purchase of RelateIQ for $390 million and OpenText’s acquisition of Actuate, in an all cash deal valued at $330 million.

Pentaho is expected to become a part of HDS’s Social Innovation and Global Industries unit, which focuses on the “practical use of connected machines and sensors and how IoT can improve business and society — or the Internet of Things that matter."

Though Pentaho is expected to operate as a somewhat independent entity and to continue serving its large customer base, it will also leverage HDS’s deep pockets and resources to “accelerate our big data analytics and data orchestration capabilities, bring new innovations to market, and expand support for current and future customers,” according to Quentin Gallivan, chairman and chief executive officer, Pentaho.

Kevin Eggleston, senior vice president, Social Innovation and Global Industries, Hitachi Data Systems says that “the combination of Hitachi’s broad industry expertise, advanced information technologies, and now Pentaho software and the talented team of experts, will enable us to give customers a more complete solution to manage their data – allowing them to leverage the power of big data and Internet of Things in a quicker and simpler way.”

Great Hardware: Not Enough?

Analyst Holger Mueller of Constellation Research says the acquisition makes sense.

“As we move into the cloud era it is not enough for hardware vendors to have great hardware, but they need to morph into platform offerings to enable their customers to build the next generation applications of the 21st century — which combine cloud, big data and analytics at their core,” he explained. He added that Hitachi’s acquisition of Pentaho follows along these trend lines, embedding the Pentaho capabilities closer to Hitachi hardware.

There’s an inherent challenge in this, according to Mueller. “Hitachi will have to chart the course well along the fine line of competitive advantage for its offering and customers who may choose not to use Hitachi hardware. “ he said.

The next months will show Hitachi's course, he added.

We’ll be watching.