Over the course of the past 18 months, IBM (news, site) has snapped up an alarming number of business intelligence (BI) companies, aiming to become the biggest player in the BI space. New releases based on those acquisitions have been slow to emerge even if the technology has been integrated quickly. In October we had Cognos 10; today it has announced a new application based on the Netezza buy.

IBM, Netezza’s Big Data Release

The acquisition of Netezza was one of the more expensive IBM buys, costing Big Blue at the time US$ 1.7 billion, which beggared the question of whether IBM would get returns on its money.

With the new release called High Capacity Appliance -- the first based on the Netezza acquisition -- it is clearly hoping that it will, with a product specifically targeting Big Data sets and the analysis of the information contained in them. It is designed to help industries uncover patterns and trends from large data sets, while meeting compliance mandates.

While Big Data analysis may have been a little bit off the mainstream two years ago, with a regulatory environment changing almost every week and requirements to hold onto data in some cases now set at ten years, more companies are falling into the group of businesses that need something that can make sense of that information.

With High Capacity Appliance, IBM will be able to provide such an application having the capability of analyzing petabytes of information within minutes, and analyzing it cheaper per terabyte than any other product on the market at the moment.

At least that’s what Big Blue says. It is also easy to use, placing it in the hands of business users across the enterprise, and can be up and running within 24 hours -- again, according to IBM.

Data sets that IBM is targeting include banking and mobile phone transactions, insurance claims, electronic medical records and sales information, which it says will identify new trends on consumer sentiment, product safety and sales and marketing effectiveness.

IBM, Netezza

The release of Netezza Big Data technology is part of a business intelligence roadmap that will take IBM up to 2015, with an acquisition war chest worth close to US$ 20 billion.

However, it’s not all about spending, and already the money is beginning to flow back into IBM coffers from recent acquisitions.

At IBM's 2011 Investor meeting, CEO Sam Palmisano noted that IBM's business analytics revenue in software and services was up 20% during the first quarter of 2011, marking six consecutive quarters of double-digit growth.

For Netezza, since it was bought by IBM, it has

  • Moved into more than 100 new global markets, including BRIC markets
  • Has more than doubled its global ecosystem to more than 175 business partners
  • Has nearly doubled sales, marketing and development expertise since the acquisition closed

Analytics, Acquisitions

And Netezza is not the only company IBM has bought in this space. Since 2006, it also bought 23 other companies, including NISC last year, Cognos over three years ago and SPSS in 2009.

There was also Coremetrics last June, which brought social media analytics for an unknown price, and Unica in August, which added more predictive analytics for marketing with a price tag of US$ 480 million.

The IBM roadmap has identified analytics as one of IBMs core interests and it has a lot of money to spend. If it has been relatively quiet for the past few months in this respect, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s finished. There’s undoubtedly a lot more to play here before the final whistle.