Delivering Analytics To the Midmarket – IBM’s PureData System For Analytics N3001-001

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  November 3, 2014

A continuing challenge in business IT development is addressing the relative technological needs of different sized organizations. Why is that problematic? Because much of the success of the IT revolution has been due to technology being generally available and affordable to businesses of virtually every size.

This isn’t to say that IT vendors offer anything like one-stop shopping. Like consumers, companies pay a premium for premium products. Plus, due to their greater needs and bigger budgets, large enterprises tend to gain early access to spanking new innovations. But continuing IT evolution also means that once pricey, cutting edge technologies will eventually come in more affordable, yet still powerful packages.

The appliance model

How vendors can successfully address this point was highlighted this week at IBM’s Insight 2014 conference in Las Vegas where the company introduced the new PureData System for Analytics N3001-001, a rack-based mini-appliance designed for midmarket businesses. Like other IT appliances, the new IBM solution provides customers fully functional business analytics and data warehouse processes and insights but does so in a package that is quick to deploy, simple to use and manage and easily affordable for target customers.

In many ways, IBM’s appliance strategy here is similar to other vendors. The apparent simplicity of appliances masks a great deal of complex effort and integration at the factory. This doesn’t mean that business customers must buy these solutions to perform such tasks—necessity is the mother of both invention and innovation. But an appliance is designed to perform specific, often highly repetitious tasks with far less time and effort than a general purpose system running an application like Microsoft SQL Server.

In this, solutions like IBM’s are similar in functionality and value to common kitchen appliances, like dicing onions in a Cuisinart rather than doing it by hand. How does this translate in terms of business value? During a technical presentation at Insight 2014, IBM’s Hemant Suri noted that one IBM customer using PureData System for Analytics N3001-001had achieved 127X faster performance its previous SQL Server solution, a result that is almost certainly saving wear, tear, time and tears in the customer’s data center.

Final analysis

Like the other new PureData System for Analytics solutions introduced at Insights 2014 (the N3001 family; a behemoth set of systems that scales to eight racks and can support up to 1.5PB of data), the N3001-001 mini-appliance benefits from the innovations offered by IBM’s Netezza system solutions and the performance boost of Intel’s latest generation Xeon CPUs. The new solutions also offer improved security features, including Kerberos support and self-encrypting hard drives.

But the N3001-001 mini-appliance’s integrated applications and 200+ prebuilt, scalable, in-database analytic functions demonstrate how the new system reflects the seriousness of IBM’s analytics intentions. Also included are software license entitlements for IBM Cognos Business Intelligence, IBM InfoSphere Data Click, IBM InfoSphere BigInsights 3.0 and IBM InfoSphere Streams Developer Edition (note: contact IBM for specific license details and PVU boundary conditions).

Overall, the PureData System for Analytics N3001-001 qualifies as a value-laden solution that should help midmarket companies begin and gain value from a variety of business analytics processes and initiatives. While this new solution is certainly impressive, it also demonstrates how IBM’s PureData System for Analytics continues to evolve impressively yet still deliver on its traditional promises of value, simplicity and ease of use for business customers.

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