IBM's InfoSphere, SmartCloud Beefed Up for Big Data
Don't expect a mobile app for either one of them. But IBM is updating its SmartCloud and InfoSphere offerings to meet the challenges of the big data era. Amid the waves of consumer-gadget hype that are overwhelming tech news, this sort of nuts and bolts development comes as a refreshing break for the IT community at midsize firms.
The IT world, after all, does not revolve around consumerization hype or bring-your-own-device (BYOD). Someday you may indeed be accessing big data on a mobile device. But in the meanwhile, midsize firms face the (rather exciting) challenge of learning how to navigate the sea of big data. This means learning how to process massive volumes of raw, mostly unstructured data to find the nuggets of crucial business insight it contains.
That is the name of IBM's conference in Las Vegas the past few days. More to the point, it is the theme of several technology developments Big Blue announced at the conference, aimed at big data and the business analytics needed to crunch it.
As Anthony Myers reports at CMS Wire, the updates center on two specific toolsets. One is InfoSphere Streams, designed to support and monitor more efficient operations, maintenance and troubleshooting, and security responses. The other is SmartCloud Analytic Answers, a predictive analytics tool aimed particularly at small to midsize businesses.
IBM's upgrade offerings are aimed at a part of the IT universe where Big Blue competes with rivals ranging from Google to Microsoft to Oracle. All are responding to the same challenge: An enormous sheer volume--and variety--of information is becoming available to IT in the big data era.
Traveling Beyond Tera
Terabytes are passé now. We are learning to speak of petabytes, exabytes, and zettabytes--each representing another three orders of magnitude in data volume. (Margaret Rouse at SearchStorage provides a handy guide to all these terms.) Tools such as Analytic Answers are designed to let midsize firms crunch into these big data quantities.
For IT professionals at midsize firms, the biggest challenge in using this new generation of big data and analytics tools may not be gaining technical mastery of their features, but learning what questions to ask. This will include gently educating nontech-minded top executives as to which questions business analytics can reasonably be expected to answer.
Other, potentially sensitive issues also lurk in the big data underbrush. Big data often means consumer data, and its misuse risks public backlash or regulatory restrictions.
But at the least it is a welcome change from mobile-gadget hype.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.