Smoke signals

IBM steps up efforts to conquer cloud with Cloudant purchase

Lucy Carey

Ambitious Big Blue looks to the future with acquisition of Boston Database-as-a-Service provider for an undisclosed sum.


Yesterday, IBM went public with the news of their purchase of Cloudant. Although the final price has yet to be disclosed, the Boston headquartered Database-as-a-Service – (DBaaS) provider  will add a valuable new file to IBM’s already bulging portfolio of offerings, which extend to Big Data and Analytics, Cloud Computing and Mobile.

IBM will now take full control of the startup, furthering its efforts to consolidate a place for the Big Blue in the sprawling world of the cloud. Cloudant already serves a diverse base of customers, in areas ranging from the games and in the financial industry, to e-learning, health, retail, and mobile. In May last year, it secured $12m in funding, with contributors including In-Q-Tel, Rackspace and Toba Capital.

The software utilised by Cloudant is grounded in technology by open-source minor league player CouchDB. Built to process JSON-formatted information, it utilises Apache Lucene for searches, provides cross-region replication, and supports both single and multi-tenant clusters.

It’s an active participant in JSON, JavaScript, HTTP and NoSQL based open source project Apache CouchDB, and is also an integral part of IBM’s Mobile First-solutions.

In an email to the CouchDB dev list, Cloudant cofounder and CTO Adam Kocoloski wrote, “I would not have agreed to this transaction if I had any concerns about Cloudant’s ability to continue its contributions and collaboration with Apache CouchDB…IBM is fully supportive of our efforts here, and I’m looking forward to bringing increased resources to bear in support of the project.”

Derek Schoettle, CEO of Cloudant, added that, by providing a DBaaS offering an application for database management to developers and administrators, workloads would be made that bit easier. He cited the company’s decision to join IBM as next wave of innovation happening in business technology, no longer on infrastructure, but at the data level.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of March. Following this, the company will sit in IBM’s newly formed Information and Analytics Group. This news is the latest in a string of announcements from IBM, which has been actively hacking away at rosters of staff and businesses no longer applicable to its core strategy.

Being part of the great flight to the cloud is an important part of the IBM roadmap going forward, and it’s something that senior vice president Robert LeBlanc sees as analogous to the movement that happened in client server computing and web computing. IBM believes that, “this is the next generation.” Those shifts lasted decades, and the company are putting their bets on that being the case for cloud too.

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