IBM Buys Star Analytics in Self-Service Big Data Play

IBM announced an agreement to acquire Star Analytics, a maker of self-service business analytics software.

Adding to its analytics portfolio, IBM has announced a definitive agreement to acquire the software portfolio of Star Analytics, a privately held maker of business analytics software.

IBM officials said the combination of IBM and Star Analytics software will further advance Big Blue's extensive business analytics initiatives, enabling user organizations to gain faster access and real-time insight into specialized data sources. Financial terms of IBM's deal to buy the Redwood City, Calif., software provider were not disclosed.

Star Analytics software addresses a rising challenge for organizations—helping automatically integrate essential information, reporting applications and business intelligence tools across their enterprises, on premise or from cloud computing environments. The software removes typical custom coding for specialized sources that are hard to maintain. It also eliminates cumbersome, time-consuming manual processes.

"IBM sees an enormous opportunity for our clients to apply Star Analytics to the information they have stored in their financial applications, and to then easily access it within their IBM performance management and business intelligence solutions " said Leslie J. Rechan, general manager of IBM Business Analytics, in a statement.

With growing challenges in gaining a more complete view into varying types of data, companies are increasingly looking for ways to automate and provide business users with self-service access to critical information.

"Star Analytics software allows organizations to move critical analytics source data at will and use it regardless of which application they need to use it with, providing both flexibility and accessibility," said Quinlan Eddy, CEO of Star Analytics, in a statement. "As part of IBM, we can now bring our technologies to a broader range of clients to help them uncover new, untapped growth opportunities."

The Star Analytics software portfolio complements IBM's technology in performance management and business intelligence solutions by providing access to a variety of specialized data sources and a self-service user experience, making data integration and automation simple and secure.

Star Integration Server (SIS) is a data bridge that extracts key business data, metadata and security from Oracle Essbase, Oracle Hyperion Planning and Oracle Hyperion Financial Management. This in turn enables the data to be used with a variety of reporting applications and data warehouses. Star Integration Server has direct native support for relational technologies, such as IBM DB2, Oracle relational database management system (RDBMS,) Microsoft SQL Server as well as flat file output.

Meanwhile, Star Command Center (SCC) introduces simplicity and control by enabling business users to automate processes across their business applications.

With the addition of Star Analytics, IBM continues to expand its software, services and hardware capabilities in the areas of analytics and big data. The systems giant has been successful with its big data analytics strategy. During IBM's earnings call Jan. 22, IBM Software Group's revenue and profits were cited as a key enabler, fueling the company's investments into new higher-value areas such as big data and analytics.

Indeed, IBM Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge said IBM's Software business has doubled in revenue and tripled in profits over the last decade—driving more than $11 billion in profits for IBM in 2012 alone.

IBM also reported that its business analytics revenue increased 13 percent in 2012. The company said it expects business analytics to reach $16 billion in revenue by the end of 2015, as part of its operating earnings per share target of at least $20 in that year.

Applying analytics to big data enables organizations to democratize and speed the sharing of critical information across an enterprise. IDC predicts that the market for big data technology and services will reach $16.9 billion by 2015, up from $3.2 billion in 2010. That is a growth rate of 40 percent a year—about seven times the estimated growth rate for the overall information technology and communications business, IBM noted.

The IBM profit engine has invested heavily in analytics. Since 2005, IBM has invested more than $16 billion in 35 big data and analytics-related acquisitions.

IBM has established a deep portfolio of big data and analytics technologies and industry expertise, including almost 9,000 dedicated business analytics and optimization consultants, and 400 researchers. Nearly 500 of the patents from IBM's record-breaking 20th year of innovation will serve as the building blocks for future analytics innovations that will help businesses and governments unlock the power of big data, the company said.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013.