IBM Launches New Cloud-Based Data Services

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

IBM’s new cloud-based data services include IBM DataWorks and IBM dashDB, among others, to help provide a fluid cloud data layer for enterprises

IBM has launched a new generation of data services on the IBM Cloud that are designed to ensure more trusted information can be applied more readily across an organisation.

The new cloud-based services will enable organisations to simplify and automate the ability to find, refine and prepare data; warehouse data in the cloud, making it instantly available for analytics; curate unstructured data services to increase the confidence in analytics and enhance mobile and web applications with embedded analytics.

In a world flooded with big data today, competitive advantage is gained by applying insight in the moment faster than your competitor. Analytics pays back $13.01 for every dollar spent – 1.2 times more than it did three years ago, according to a 2014 study by Nucleus Research.

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“All the data in the world is useless if you can’t put it to work,” said Beth Smith, general manager of big data at IBM, in a statement. “The new cloud-born services from IBM provide data professionals the ability to deliver data with speed and confidence as the fuel for applications and analytics. The ability to source and manage the right data will help organisations keep data management streamlined, while adhering to increasingly stringent regulatory demands, and produce results and analysis of real value to the business.”

Unlike other offerings that address only one aspect of the data problem, the new services introduced by IBM provide the key capabilities to help organizations shift from working on the data to putting data to work for their business.

“We have three new data services in the cloud that are fundamental to a fluid data layer, which I think is important for the cloud,” Smith told eWEEK. “What really comes with hybrid is the ability to integrate and interoperate systems that are on-premise with systems that are in the cloud or multiple clouds. Cloud is terrific for innovation and building faster, but it comes with a risk of isolation. So it’s got to be about hybrid at the end of the day.

Seamless

IBM’s new innovations will help ensure that data flows seamlessly to applications and analytics, making them portable and accessible, no matter where the data resides. They include IBM DataWorks, which is a set of cloud-based data refinery services that shape, cleanse, match and secure data. The new services enable business users to find, use and contribute data for analysis; application developers to embed data services into new applications; and IT and data professionals to enable self-service data access and instill confidence to act on the data.

“With DataWorks, the thought is just like a faucet you turn on and get your waterworks — when you’re using DataWorks you should be able to get data that flows, it should be clean, it should be secure and trusted,” Smith said. “Data Works is a set of refinery services to do just that.”

The second new service is IBM dashDB, a cloud-based data warehousing and analytics service with in-memory technology built-in to deliver answers faster. IBM’s dashDB keeps infrastructure concerns out of the way of critical and time sensitive analytics. A new integration of dashDB with Cloudant, IBM’s NoSQL database as a service (DBaaS), enables Cloudant users to embed analytics in their applications with a few clicks.

“DashDB is an analytics warehouse in the cloud to be able to give you fast analytics, fast insight,” Smith said. “It allows you to support your analytics from on-prem systems to cloud and back again. It’s about that fluid data layer piece.”

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Meanwhile, the third new service also involves Cloudant. IBM is extending its portfolio with Cloudant Local, an on-premise edition of the cloud DBaaS that enables a fluid hybrid cloud data layer that spans private data centers, mobile devices and third-party cloud providers. This ensures customers can easily reconfigure their cloud data platforms over time to optimize the cost, security, reach and performance.

The power of these capabilities could enable, for example, a ride sharing service company to improve their customers’ experience by ensuring their drivers are in the right place at the right time. The company can take taxi trip information, captured in a mobile application running on Cloudant, directly into dashDB, and then use DataWorks to refine and load additional weather and traffic data to provide more insight, IBM said. With dashDB, Cloudant and DataWorks working together, new insights can be leveraged to improve customer experience and grow revenue, the company said.

“IBM’s new cloud-based data services follow a different approach to a similar conclusion by making the company’s considerable big data and analytics capabilities more widely available via the IBM Cloud Marketplace,” said Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. “Though some of these offerings are relatively new, I believe they will pique the interest of both potential customers and developers looking for ways to heighten the value and relevancy of their data resources easily and affordably.”

Moreover, “The reason this fluid data layer is so important is so that things will flow and you have the portability of your analytics, you have the portability of your workloads, and you have the portability of your data all in a cloud environment,” Smith said. “The toughest nut to crack in cloud is data. Virtualization and automation are the foundation of cloud, but now it’s about the data. You need your data to be trusted, secure and protected. And you need to be able to use enterprise data that may be from other systems. That’s always made it a challenge when it comes to data.”

IBM also introduced the Watson Curator at Insight 2014. Watson Curator is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that increases confidence in the delivery of quality content collections and governance for IBM Watson Solutions. For example, an individual insurance risk analyst can quickly review and add context to documents so that many underwriters across the enterprise can get higher quality responses on risk assessments from Watson Engagement Advisor. IBM Watson Curator actively guides subject matter experts — in this case the risk expert — through the entire curation process in order to minimize the time and effort required. This capability improves the relevance and quality of the information used for analytics.

IBM DataWorks, dashDB and Cloudant are available on IBM Bluemix. IBM Cloudant Local is available on cloudant.com. IBM Watson Curator will be available later this year.

IBM also announced that its broad portfolio of analytics capabilities — including Cognos business intelligence and SPSS predictive analytics platforms – will be available via the IBM Cloud marketplace. 

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Originally published on eWeek.