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7/29/2009
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IBM Announces 'Smart Analytics System' Aimed at Reinventing Data Warehousing

Performance-optimized products combine hardware, database and systems management with optional BI software and applications. IBM promises faster deployment, lower cost and better performance than conventional BI and warehouse deployments.

The top story this week in enterprise IT is surely IBM's planned $1.2 billion acquisition of analytics vendor SPSS. But IBM made another announcement on Tuesday that may have a much larger impact over the long term. Big Blue says the new IBM Smart Analytics System will deliver optimized combinations of hardware, software and business-problem-specific applications that will reset deployment-speed, cost and performance expectations for "analytics-ready" data warehouses. If the company can deliver -- and there are certainly questions and competitive threats -- it may shake up the piece-part integration approach that has prevailed in data warehousing and business intelligence.

IBM's gauzy press release offered few hard facts about the IBM Smart Analytics System, but close questioning by analysts and press attending yesterday's announcement event at an IBM Research facility in Hawthorne, NY, revealed the following details:

  • The core system will be available in six "tee-shirt" sizes, including extra small, small, medium, large, extra large and XX-large (4TB, 12TB, 25TB, 50TB, 100TB and 200TB).

  • The product includes all required servers, including storage, systems management, clustering and data warehousing.

  • Options include analytic modules based on Cognos BI software, vertical-industry applications and third-party partner analytics. There will also be optional modules for ETL/data integration and fail-over/real-time disaster recovery.

  • Services and support will include deployment and ongoing "health checks" to ensure that systems don't fall out of tolerance with optimized performance.

The IBM Smart Analytics System is to be formally announced and available in September, and the company also announced an IBM Smart Analytic Optimizer designed specifically for IBM System Z computers. The latter is to be introduced in the fourth quarter and will act as a coprocessor supporting analytic queries and cubing against data in live, mission critical systems running on System Z computers. Thus, the thousands of government agencies, financial services, retailers and manufacturers still running these mainframes will gain an option for query and analysis capabilities without having to build a data warehouse. The Optimizer will handle all query and analysis processing so that work won't affect the performance of the host mainframe.

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