IBM Goes On Cloud Offensive With Mobile, Database And Analytics Blitz

IBM bolstered its cloud offerings Monday, unleashing a bevy of cloud, mobile and analytics services geared toward helping companies intelligently juggle a growing surge of data by turning the deluge into actionable business insights.

The announcements include news from IBM's DataWorks, dashDB and most significantly Cloudant solutions. Cloudant is key to IBM's enterprise mobility solution MobileFirst, a significant part of the company's high-profile mobile apps deal with Apple that was announced in July.

As part of IBM's Insight 2014 conference, taking place in Las Vegas this week, Big Blue revealed that Cloudant would expand offerings to include an on-premises version of its cloud database service called Cloudant Local.

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It also said there would integration between its in-memory cloud-based data warehousing and analytics service called dashDB with Cloudant. IBM said by combining the two, customers will be able to take advantage of accelerated in-memory processing of big data stored on Cloudant NoSQL databases. A NoSQL (Not Only Structured Query Language) database are typically used in big data and real-time web applications.

IBM also said there will be an IBM DataWorks service that allows customers to develop applications that can find, use and contribute data for analysis. By tying the cloud services together, IBM said, field logistics companies could improve efficiency by basing decisions on real-time data feeds such as weather, traffic and delivery deadlines, for example.

IBM partners Dave Lasseter, vice president of Power System sales at Tallahassee, Fla.-based Mainline Information Systems, said Cloudant Local will have particular interest to customers testing the cloud waters for taking services databases from on-premises to off.

"Most of our customers are evaluating cloud services and who they can trust," Lasseter said.

While IBM may be one step ahead of Lasseter's customers when it comes to cloud and DBaaS solutions, he said, it's playing catchup with analytics.

"Customers are very interested in what IBM is bringing to the table," he said, adding that IBM has some catching up to do to keep pace with competing Hadoop deployments.

The cloud offensive comes as IBM’s business performance has come under question.

The company last week reported disappointing earnings, including its tenth straight quarter of falling revenue as it struggles to change its business model by spinning off hardware units and focus on software and cloud-based services.

Dan DeMichele, Cloudant VP of products, wrote in a company blog Monday regarding Cloudant, "The beauty of Cloudant, and now the release of Cloudant Local, is that developers or even entire IT departments don’t have to make deployment decisions up front when launching an app."

Cloudant, IBM has said, factored heavily in its partnership with Apple. DeMichele has said Cloudant will be the back-end data layer for the Apple MobileFirst platform. IBM has not released any firm dates for it.

IBM purchased Cloudant to boost its Big Data and Analytics portfolio. The Cloudant purchase gave IBM a mature Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) offering that enables customers to streamline the development of scalable mobile and web apps. Cloudant's NoSQL database service is known for its reliable and scalable apps that include a variety of structured and unstructured data.

Cloudant solutions compete with NoSQL competitors Cassandra/DataStax, Couchbase and MongoDB that are also available on-premises and on multiple DBaaS clouds. Amazon DynamoDB also offers a similar database service, although it's not available in an on-premises option. Cloudant said its offering bests competitors because of its efficient syncing of structured and unstructured data across far-flung databases and iOS and Android devices.

IBM said, at least the Cloudant Local service will be available to business partners beginning next month for SVP SaaS resellers and via IBM's SaaS referral incentive program. Cloudant Local pricing ranges between $22,500 to $45,000 depending on node requirements with the average deployment cost of $405,000 for a six-production node solution.