IBM Acquires Cloudant to Boost Cloud Databases

IBM has acquired Database as a Service (DBaaS) provider Cloudant. The acquisition benefits IBM across three important areas for Big Blue: Big Data and Analytics, Cloud Computing and Mobile.

Jason Verge

February 24, 2014

5 Min Read
IBM Acquires Cloudant to Boost Cloud Databases
Servers at an IBM SoftLayer data center. (Photo: SoftLayer)



Some of the thousands of servers inside an IBM SoftLayer data center. IBM today acquired database as a service provider Cloudant. (Photo: SoftLayer)

IBM is acquiring Cloudant, a database as a service (DBaaS) provider that enables developers to create next generation mobile and web applications. Delivered as a managed cloud service, Cloudant technology simplifies database management for app developers. The acquisition sits squarely at the intersection of three important areas for IBM: big data, cloud computing and mobile.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition of Cloudant is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

"IBM is leading the charge in helping its clients take advantage of big data, cloud and mobile," said Sean Poulley, vice president, databases and data warehousing, IBM. "Cloudant sits squarely at the nexus of these three key transformational areas and enables clients to rapidly deliver an entirely new level of innovative, engaging and data-rich apps to the marketplace." Cloudant will become part of IBM’s newly formed Information and Analytics Group.

Complement to SoftLayer

After acquiring SoftLayer as its cloud "crown jewel," the company has been busy developing and acquiring complementary pieces to the SoftLayer infrastructure foundations. IBM became familiar with Cloudant because they were a SoftLayer customer. Cloudant has customers in gaming, financial services, mobile device manufacturers, online learning, retail and healthcare.

"Cloudant’s decision to join IBM highlights that the next wave of enterprise technology innovation has moved beyond infrastructure and is now happening at the data layer," said Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle. "Our relationship with IBM and SoftLayer has evolved significantly in recent years, with more connected devices generating data at an unprecedented rate. Cloudant's NoSQL expertise, combined with IBM’s enterprise reliability and resources, adds data layer services to the IBM portfolio that others can’t match."

Cloudant works with IBM’s big data and analytics portfolio by giving clients a tool to simplify and accelerate the development of scalable mobile and web apps. The acquisition also strengthens IBM’s cloud solutions by providing yet another popular developer tool to build, test, deploy and scale cloud applications on a variety of cloud layers. IBM’s MobileFirst solutions stand to gain as Cloudant will be integral, enabling developers who use Worklight, IBM’s mobile app development software, to quickly create scalable apps that include a variety of structured and unstructured data.

IBM Bets Big on Big Data

The acquisition marks continued cloud and big data investment on the part of IBM. The company has heavily invested in big data and analytics both in-house and through acquisition. In addition to organic growth through research and development, the company invested more than $17 billion on more than 30 acquisitions in the space. The resultof this heavy focus in business analytics is now nearly a $16 billion dollar business. The $16 billion figure was originally the target for 2015, and the company has upped projections to $20 billion.

IBM is trying to capitalize on the proliferation of mobile device usage worldwide with the Cloudant acquisition. With five petabytes of data being created every day by mobile phone subscribers around the world, user data must be always available and easily accessed by massive volumes and networks of users and devices and Cloudant helps build these scalable applications.

"IBM has a rich history in the field of data management, and one that will truly differentiate Cloudant's technology in the marketplace," said Cloudant CTO and Co-Founder Adam Kocoloski. "Joining IBM allows Cloudant to innovate faster than ever before, and IBM's track record in open source software gives us complete confidence in our ongoing collaboration with the Apache CouchDB project. Cloudant could not have found a better home than IBM." The DBaaS company is an active participant and contributor to the open source database community Apache CouchDB, and says it will continue to contribute.

Cloudant's DBaaS leverages cloud computing to create a global data delivery network enabling applications to scale larger and remain available to users wherever they are located. In addition, the Cloudant managed cloud service:

  • Stores data of any structure as self-describing JSON documents

  • Leverages a multi-master replication system and advanced distributed design principles to achieve elastic database clusters that can span multiple racks, data centers, or cloud providers

  • Enables global data distribution and geo-load balancing to provide high availability and enhanced performance for applications that require data to be located close to users

  • Provides full-text search, advanced geo-spatial and temporal querying, and flexible, real-time indexing

  • Integrates via a RESTful application programming interface (API)

  • Enables easy data replication and sync for mobile applications, with open source, device-native software libraries

  • Offers 24x7 monitoring and management by its Big Data experts

SoftLayer to Infuse IBM Power Systems into SoftLayer, Bolstering Big Data in the Cloud

Beginning next quarter, SoftLayer will integrate IBM Power Systems into their cloud infrastructure. This is the first offering from SoftLayer built on IBM's Power Systems line of servers built for big data demands will be IBM Watson solutions, followed by additional offerings to leverage Power Systems' strong performance in data and analytics.

"Once our development teams began testing Power Systems in the SoftLayer environment, Power's competitive advantage immediately became clear," said Lance Crosby, IBM SoftLayer CEO. "The performance and efficiencies inherent in Power Systems are a real game-changer -- particularly when it comes to building out modern, adaptable cloud environments that can handle the next level of Big Data coming our way. The combination of SoftLayer and Power Systems will allow us to take cloud computing to a new level, providing customers with services they hadn't thought were possible."

IBM also announced is its new IBM Platform Computing Cloud Service, a ready-to-run cluster in the cloud – complete with workload management, SoftLayer infrastructure and the support of a dedicated cloud operations team. With IBM Platform Computing Cloud Service, organizations can rapidly extend resources to physical, non-shared infrastructure in the SoftLayer cloud to quickly accommodate peaks in demand without being concerned about performance.

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