IBM to Buy Aspera to Speed Movement of Big Data to the Cloud

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-12-19

IBM to Buy Aspera to Speed Movement of Big Data to the Cloud

IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire Aspera, a provider of technology that advances the transfer of large files to securely speed the movement of massive data files around the world.

With this move, IBM is bolstering its big data and cloud computing capabilities by acquiring technology that makes it easier for customers to move large data files to the cloud. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Our experience working with thousands of clients on big-data projects tells us that companies can better compete and win when they can quickly extract value from massive volumes of data,” said John Mesberg, vice president of B2B and Commerce Solutions at IBM, in a statement. “With this acquisition, IBM addresses a key challenge for globally integrated enterprises by allowing them to move large data files much faster to the individuals who need them, wherever in the world they may be.”

Licensed to clients and partners either in the cloud or on-premise, Aspera's high-speed transfer technology reduces transmission times for large files or data sets by up to 99.9 percent–potentially cutting a 26-hour transfer of a 24GB file, sent halfway around the world, down to just 30 seconds, IBM said. Aspera’s patented fasp technology overcomes inherent bottlenecks in broadband wide area networks that slow the transfer of extremely large files, such as high-definition video or scientific research files, over distance.

“It makes a lot of sense for IBM to have a product like Aspera’s in their portfolio,” said Lawrence Schwartz, vice president of marketing at IBM partner Attunity, which provides technology similar to that of Aspera, in a statement. “On-premises-to-cloud data transfer is backbreaking work, and solutions like Aspera’s and Attunity’s can improve performance by an order of magnitude. This deal could signal that major big data solution providers are starting to raise the ante in their cloud business units.”

Companies today are struggling to manage increasing volumes of structured and unstructured data created by everything from sensors to social media. They must accelerate the velocity of sending and receiving this data to improve competitiveness in a variety of ways–including the ability to more quickly uncover valuable business insights, bring products to market faster and improve employee productivity. This becomes even more critical with the growing adoption of cloud computing, where companies need a more effective way to transport extremely large files to and from cloud platforms. Aspera moves big data to, from and within the cloud faster than traditional methods while providing security, bandwidth control and predictability.

“The Aspera purchase mainly sharpens IBM's ability to help customers manage and transmit massive data files,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK. “There are certainly IBM cloud applications that will profit from the technology, especially those related to big data. Plus the sheer size of the files Aspera's technologies applies to makes it largely of interest to the enterprise customers IBM's cloud solutions are targeted toward.”

IBM to Buy Aspera to Speed Movement of Big Data to the Cloud

IBM said Aspera solutions solve data transfer problems across numerous industries and scenarios such as:

·         Life sciences organizations sharing genomic data in the quest to find the next medical breakthrough;

·         Media companies shortening production cycles or uploading hit television shows and blockbuster movies to popular consumer streaming services;

·         Gaming companies receiving the latest software build from third-party developers to enable rapid game development;

·         Any individual within an enterprise trying to share and synchronize large files over distance between multiple devices such as a laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

“Our team has redefined how the world’s biggest data can be moved quickly, securely and reliably around the world,” said Michelle Munson, president and co-founder of Aspera, in a statement. “By tapping into IBM’s innovative capabilities and global resources, we will solve ever expanding data movement challenges for our customers now and in the future.”

Aspera advances the transfer of large files where traditional network protocols limit speed and reliability. Typical data transfers over TCP/IP are hampered by network delays or packet loss, even over the fastest broadband networks. Aspera’s fasp protocol delivers the industry’s fastest transmission speeds over any network link regardless of file size, transfer distance or network conditions. Aspera ensures secure encryption of the files in transit or at rest.

By combining Aspera with the power of cloud computing, customers have a practical way to transport big data files to and from the cloud, IBM said. Aspera makes cloud computing even faster, more predictable and more cost effective for big data transfers such as enterprise storage backup, sharing virtual images or bursting to the cloud for increased computing capacity. Its fasp technology is licensed to many leading cloud computing services and will be integrated with IBM’s recently acquired SoftLayer cloud infrastructure later next year.

“IBM invested in acquiring SoftLayer earlier this year and now has the next piece with Aspera,” Attunity’s Schwartz said. “This becomes another critical piece in IBM’s strategy to up its cloud game.”

Moreover, this acquisition builds on IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative by allowing businesses to accelerate their digital supply chains between partners and suppliers. This also extends IBM’s capabilities in Managed File Transfer with a complementary set of capabilities to help enterprises further gain control and oversight of their data transfers.

The acquisition of Aspera is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

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