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IBM 'Smart Analytics System' Aimed at Reinventing Data Warehousing

Performance-optimized products combine hardware, database and systems management with optional BI software and applications. IBM promises faster deployment, lower cost and better performance than conventional BI and warehouse deployments.

Big Blue says the new IBM Smart Analytics System will deliver optimized combinations of hardware, software and business-problem-specific applications that will reset deployment-speed, cost and performance expectations for "analytics-ready" data warehouses. If the company can deliver -- and there are certainly questions and competitive threats -- it may shake up the piece-part integration approach that has prevailed in data warehousing and business intelligence.

  • The core system will be available in six "tee-shirt" sizes, including extra small, small, medium, large, extra large and XX-large (4TB, 12TB, 25TB, 50TB, 100TB and 200TB).
  • The product includes all required servers, including storage, systems management, clustering and data warehousing.
  • Options include analytic modules based on Cognos BI software, vertical-industry applications and third-party partner analytics. There will also be optional modules for ETL/data integration and fail-over/real-time disaster recovery.
  • Services and support will include deployment and ongoing "health checks" to ensure that systems don't fall out of tolerance with optimized performance.

The IBM Smart Analytics System is to be formally announced and available in September, and the company also announced an IBM Smart Analytic Optimizer designed specifically for IBM System Z computers. The latter is to be introduced in the fourth quarter and will act as a coprocessor supporting analytic queries and cubing against data in live, mission critical systems running on System Z computers. Thus, the thousands of government agencies, financial services, retailers and manufacturers still running these mainframes will gain an option for query and analysis capabilities without having to build a data warehouse. The Optimizer will handle all query and analysis processing so that work won't affect the performance of the host mainframe.

Questions Abound

IBM executives stressed that the Smart Analytics System will be purchased and shipped as a single product that won't be available in a-la-carte fashion.

Q: Is this simply a broader repackaging of IBM's existing InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse offerings?
A: "This system delivers an order-of-magnitude deeper integration and optimization than in the Balanced Configuration units," responded Steve Mills, IBM's senior vice president and executive of the IBM Software Group. "We've optimized the structuring of data, loading data, the queries -- it gets into all the fine-grained aspects of system-level optimization, so it's beyond a packaging approach."

Q: Are the optimizations predefined or are they customized for each customer and deployment?
A: "The answer is both," responded Arvind Krishna, IBM's vice president of enterprise information products. "We're doing the bulk of the optimization up front in manufacturing before the product ships, but if the customer wants more work done to optimize a particular application, that has to be unique to the customer."

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