LAS VEGAS—IBM continued on its journey to assume a leadership role in the cloud computing space with the announcement of its intent to acquire Cloudant, a startup that provides a database-as a service (DBaaS).
At the IBM Pulse 2014 conference here, IBM today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Boston-based Cloudant, a privately held DBaaS provider that enables developers to easily and quickly create next-generation mobile and Web apps.
Cloudant will extend IBM’s big data and analytics, cloud computing and mobile offerings by further helping clients take advantage of these key growth initiatives. Financial terms were not disclosed. Clients across a variety of industries, including gaming, financial services, mobile devices, online learning, retail and health care, are already using Cloudant technology.
“IBM is leading the charge in helping its clients take advantage of big data, cloud and mobile,” said Sean Poulley, vice president of Databases & Data Warehousing at IBM, in a statement. “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 is a contributor to the Apache CouchDB open-source database community. The database delivers high availability, elastic scalability and innovative mobile device synchronization. Cloudant’s JSON cloud-based data service allows mobile and Web developers to easily store and access the explosion of mobile data. Increasingly, developers have embraced NoSQL databases because of their flexibility, and JSON has become the predominant NoSQL database technology for mobile and Web app developers.
“This is truly the first NoSQL database as a service that is ready for the enterprise,” said Robert LeBlanc, IBM senior vice president of Software and Cloud Solutions, during a keynote at the conference, where he announced IBM’s plan to acquire Cloudant.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
Cloudant complements IBM’s big data and analytics portfolio beyond traditional data management by providing a database as a service that enables clients to simplify and accelerate the development of engaging and scalable mobile and Web apps. Cloudant also is integral to IBM’s MobileFirst solutions, IBM said. It enables developers who use Worklight, IBM’s mobile app development software, to quickly create flexible, scalable apps that include a variety of structured and unstructured data.
“Cloudant showcases IBM’s continued push to transition into a leading cloud services provider,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “IBM was largely blindsided by how far and fast Amazon was able to move AWS into IBM’s space, and now the firm is racing to acquire the technology, and more importantly the people, that will allow them to fight back. IBM was designed over a century ago to periodically undergo massive changes to respond to major market swings, and that ability has allowed them to survive far longer than the vast majority of their peers. You’re seeing that unique capability demonstrated as IBM morphs yet again.”
IBM Acquires Cloudant in Major Cloud Move
Asked if he believes IBM is currently a leader in the cloud computing space, Enderle said, “Not yet, but on their current path they should be by year end.”
Delivered as a managed cloud service, Cloudant technology ensures that app developers no longer need to be experts in database management, while database administrators (DBAs) can focus on higher-value tasks beyond day-to-day administration.
The acquisition of Cloudant will also strengthen IBM’s cloud solutions by providing developers with the tools and resources to build, test, deploy and scale cloud apps on a variety of hosting layers. Cloudant runs on the IBM SoftLayer platform today and extends IBM’s recent investment in the SoftLayer cloud infrastructure. As a global service sold in 140 countries, SoftLayer provides an easy cloud “on-ramp” to help clients quickly deploy mobile capabilities with the security, privacy and reliability of private clouds and the economy, flexibility and speed of a public cloud.
“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 in a statement. “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’s DBaaS leverages the availability, elasticity and reach of the cloud to create a global data delivery network enabling applications to scale larger and remain available to users wherever they are located.
The acquisition of Cloudant is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014. Cloudant will join IBM’s newly formed Information and Analytics Group led by Senior Vice President Bob Picciano, a business unit within the IBM Software & Systems Group.
IBM also announced a $1 billion investment in its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) implementation, opening its middleware to the cloud.
“IBM’s $1billion commitment to PaaS further reinforces CloudBees’ long standing vision that empowering developers with an on-demand platform is key to providing businesses access to the next productivity quantum leap,” said Sacha Labourey, CEO of CloudBees, maker of a popular Java-based PaaS. “Much like the middleware market a decade earlier, the PaaS market is destined to be a highly strategic multibillion-dollar market.
“However, the shift to public cloud is a tough transition for most legacy software vendors: Pure play cloud vendors force them to make aggressive moves in order to stay relevant as the market shifts,” Labourey said. “The bolder the move they make, the more likely it is to cannibalize their existing software revenues. Historically, IBM has been known to be talented at achieving those transitions. The same can’t be said yet about some of the other big software vendors.”
Steven Harris, senior vice president of products at CloudBees, said both IBM’s acquisition of Cloudant and the formation of a new Cloud Foundry Foundation will have an impact on the PaaS market.
“The presence of these enterprise players is natural, because they see an opportunity to embrace cloud within their existing on-premises business model and sales strategy,” Harris said. “The transition to delivering as a service is a tough one for them and their customers. Being able to harness continuous delivery and take advantage of public cloud resources are some of the reasons CloudBees’ business is growing and you’ll continue to see a vigorous PaaS marketplace.”