IBM unfurled a cloud-based data service targeted at integrating data science, engineering, and application building into a product built on a Kubernetes-based container platform. Analysts noted that the platform is initially aiming for a small target market, but if successful could draw a quick response from competitors like Microsoft.
The data service is dubbed the IBM Cloud Private for Data. It’s designed to allow companies to glean insight from their data resources on their way to supporting enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) services. Enterprises can manage the platform from a user interface that is consistent across elements of the environment.
Rob Thomas, general manager for IBM Analytics, noted in a blog post that the platform “connects all data seamlessly and starts with the core of every business: enterprise data.”
Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz and Associates, explained that: “One of the core driving forces behind the platform is that it provides a coherent set of services based on clean data within a distributed data catalog that incorporates metadata that has been vetted and cleaned. Therefore, it should help prepare customers for the migration to AI in a safer and more predictable manner.”
However, Hurwitz said IBM could be challenged in garnering market traction.
“Adoption is always an issue with any platform,” Hurwitz noted. “IBM has to gain the trust of the cloud vendors and customers.”
Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT, said he thought the platform’s initial “clear focus on enterprise customers” could limit its appeal to “mid-market businesses that could also profit from the platform.”
“On the plus side, it isn’t a fatal issue and I expect IBM will remedy it relatively quickly,” King added.
Both King and Hurwitz applauded IBM for being at the forefront in tackling this new market segment, but also noted that rivals like Microsoft are sure to take notice.
“I think it will be a while before competitors decide what to attack,” Hurwitz explained. “I think that you can expect Microsoft to be the most obvious vendor that will attack based on its platform services.”
Microsoft earlier this year instituted a major reorganization that included the formation of a new cloud and AI business unit.
Data management support now includes MongoDB, which is an open source NoSQL database program, and the Postgres open source database management system. The data catalog allows businesses to bring together data from different silos that can produce metadata and controls into a single distributed catalog.
IBM has also integrated its Data Risk Manager to provide a view between the data catalog and the ability to discover, analyze, and manage risk data.
“IBM is putting a big emphasis on managing data so that the data is vetted and clean before a data scientist begins to apply algorithms and come up with bad results because the data is bad,” Hurwitz said.
IBM’s Thomas also touted the Data Risk Manager as helping organizations deal with the recently implemented General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from the European Union (EU).
King concurred, noting that feature could have the most immediate impact for enterprises adopting the platform.
“Given IBM’s continuing focus on delivering robust analytics features and functions, extending ICP for Data’s capabilities to MongoDB and EnterpriseDB Postgres databases is valuable,” King said. “That said, the recent impacts of the EU’s GDPR rules may lead many organizations to find the integration with IBM’s Data Risk Manager to be the new feature of most immediate consequence.”
Kubernetes-Based Container Architecture
The new offering is built on IBM’s Cloud Private platform that it initially announced last November. That platform took a unique step in relying on a Kubernetes-based container architecture to support integration and portability of workloads between cloud environment and management across multiple clouds. This includes IBM Cloud, IBM PowerVC, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and VMware on and off premises.
Hurwitz noted that the containerized structure of the platform is unique in the market. “This has turned them from independent products to services,” she explained.
“Because it is the same cloud architecture across IBM public and private cloud, it is easier to move workloads and move from development in a public cloud to deployment in a private cloud,” Hurwitz said.
“Through this agreement clients will be able to extend their use of IBM middleware, such as WebSphere, as well as IBM Cloud Private for Data to virtually any cloud running OpenShift,” Thomas wrote.