How does IBM’s new PureData system stack up against rival data-analytics platforms? According to one analyst, PureData reflects IBM’s long history in data analytics, placing those rivals at a distinct disadvantage. “The company was out of the blocks early (in 2009) with its Smart Analytics System,” Charles King, principal analyst of Pund-IT, wrote in an Oct. 10 research note, “a solution that utilized IBM hardware and software that was integrated and optimized to provide robust support for a range of robust analytics processes.” Moreover, he added, PureData’s focus on a number of different analytics silos, including transactional and operational data, makes it a threat to those vendors with platforms that don’t analyze data to that multi-dimensional degree. “At one level, the new solutions will simply reinforce IBM’s current market and thought leadership positions,” King wrote. “That isn’t a bad thing, unless you happen to be one of the myriad companies traveling in IBM’s wake.” The PureData System includes three models for transactional, operational and “Big Data” analytics. The PureData System for Transactions allows companies to analyze retail and commerce transactions, while the PureData System for Operation Analytics gives insight into business operations; PureData System for Analytics relies on a massive library of in-database analytic functions (among other tools) to streamline data-warehouse services and analytics applications. IBM nonetheless faces a number of determined competitors. At the recent Oracle Open World (OOW) conference, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison whipped the curtain back from the Exadata X3, which places an entire active database into memory to accelerate performance. “If you thought the old Exadatas were fast, you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Ellison told the crowd. Companies can adjust their Exadata configuration to handle any number of database and analytics loads. On top of that, Oracle is determined to take market-share away from IBM, and they certainly have enough of a budget and presence to make it a fight. SAP is also making inroads into various subsets of the analytics market. The company recently announced its new Planning for Retail platform, which lets those involved in commerce project sales and forecast future quarters. SAP argues that its HANA in-memory database, which increasingly binds the company’s offerings together and can crunch data at considerable speed, is a “secret sauce” of sorts for its brand of analytics. While IBM remains a powerful competitor in the B.I. space, in other words, it’s also a space evolving too quickly for any one company or solution to rest easily for long.   Image: VAlex/