Today IBM announced its plans to acquire Vivisimo – an enterprise search vendor with big data capabilities. Our research shows that only 1% to 5% of all enterprise data is in a structured, modeled format that fits neatly into enterprise data warehouses (EDWs) and data marts. The rest of enterprise data (and we are not even talking about external data such as social media data, for example) may not be organized into structures that easily fit into relational or multidimensional databases. There’s also a chicken-and-the-egg syndrome going on here. Before you can put your data into a structure, such as a database, you need to understand what’s out there and what structures do or may exist. But in order for you to explore the data in the first place, traditional data integration technologies require some structures to even start the exploration (tables, columns, etc). So how do you explore something without a structure, without a model, and without preconceived notions? That’s where big data exploration and discovery technologies such as Hadoop and Vivisimo come into play. (There are many others vendors in this space as well, including Oracle Endeca, Attivio, and Saffron Technology. While these vendors may not directly compete with Vivisimo and all use different approaches and architectures, the final objective – data discovery – is often the same.) Data exploration and discovery was one of our top 2012 business intelligence predictions. However, it’s only a first step in the full cycle of business intelligence and analytics. Once you discover a pattern using a product like Vivisimo, you may need to productionalize or persist your findings in a traditional DW and then build reports and dashboards for further analysis using traditional BI technologies. This is where IBM may be looking to integrate Vivisimo with its InfoSphere and Cognos products.
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