Why IBM is adding Vivisimo to its analytics roster

There may be no free-standing analytics companies left soon if IBM has its way.  On Wednesday, IBM(s ibm) said it is buying Vivisimo for the “discovery and navigation” expertise that companies use to access and analyze (what else?) big data. Why Vivisimo? Its technology will help IBM attack a key customer need: The ability to search, navigate and analyze data that’s in both Hadoop and in legacy non-Hadoop repositories, Anjul Bhambri, IBM’s VP of big data said in an interview.

“Vivisimo goes beyond Hadoop to federate queries, explore, navigate and perform ad hoc analytics of data not just in Hadoop but across repositories,” she said.

One key factor in dealing with massive amounts of big data, is that it’s not always practical to forklift petabytes of data across the network to a Hadoop cluster. It’s better to run analytics at the source.

The Vivisimo buyout — terms of which were not disclosed — comes a week after IBM announced its acquisition of Varicent, another analytics company. Like Varicent, Vivisimo will be integrated into IBM’s huge software group. Vivisimo, brings with it 120 employees and some big-name customers: Airbus, the U.S. Air Force, the Social Security Administration, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Navy, Procter & Gamble (s pg), Bupa and LexisNexis.

Big data analytics:  A $17 billion biz by 2015?

IBM trotted out the usual big numbers to illustrate the big data analytics opportunity. For example, it said 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily by  sensors, social media, and billions of mobile devices. IDC estimates the market for big data technology and services will grow at an annual rate of nearly 40 percent to reach $16.9 billion by 2015.

So the availbility of data is not the issue — the ability to find and analyse the right data is the key problem. IBM is certainly not alone in this quest for better, and often more specialized analytics to be applied to the big data issue. Other legacy IT powers including Oracle(s orcl), Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) and SAP(s sap) are also buying their way into bigger analytics. In fact, Endeca and Autonomy, two vendors that competed with Vivisimo, were already acquired by Oracle and HP respectively.

At the same time, a younger generation of companies notably Splunk (s splk), this year’s poster child for hot IPOs, Paradigm4 and  Qlikview  also attack aspects of the problem. The battle for better big data analytics is on.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Dominic’s pic