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IBM Watson, As A Developer Platform

IBM has used its Information on Demand (to be known as IBM Insight from 2014) user conference and exhibition in Las Vegas this week to detail expansions to the BLU Acceleration product portfolio and herald a future developer landscape where programmers will be able to code to the Watson platform.

As Dr. Dobb's readers know, IBM's Watson is a "cognitive computing intelligence and predictive analytics" supercomputer system that beat human opponents on the quiz show Jeopardy.

At this week's show, IBM confirmed that its subsequent development steps with Watson will be programmer focused. There will be an opening up of the Watson API, the creation of Watson as a software application development platform (in order for software application developers to code on top of the Watson cognitive intelligence engine), and the wider development of the Watson cloud offering.

The firm has banked on big data analysis visualization offerings as its key differentiator in the data programming market and has spent this week talking about technologies such as Project Neo — a software application development project designed to grab hold of "raw big data logs" and transform the output via a graphical interface. Project Neo is said to be going into beta in 2014 at this stage.

IBM is also announcing an expansion of its BLU Acceleration portfolio with an early access preview of BLU Acceleration for Cloud, a solution that will offer IBM's in-memory database and business analytics technologies. This news comes on the heels of the recently announced IBM BLU Acceleration Solution – Power Systems Edition, which exploits POWER7+ processor-based technology for 8x to 25x faster reporting and analytics and 10x storage space savings.

IBM is also delivering BLU Acceleration capabilities as part of its IBM PureSystems family of expert integrated systems. The new IBM Business Intelligence Pattern with BLU Acceleration (BI-BLU) makes it simple and fast for organizations to benefit from high-speed analytics using advanced in-memory technologies.

IBM has also spoken of new big data exploration capabilities for InfoSphere Data Explorer, a search-based big data exploration tool that helps clients distinguish different forms of data through data exploration and discovery, and helps clients visualize structured and unstructured data from multiple diverse sources.

According to a generic but admittedly interesting IBM press statement, "Each day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated by a variety of sources — from climate information, to posts on social media sites, and from purchase transaction records to healthcare medical images. At IBM we believe that data is emerging as the world's newest resource for competitive advantage, and analytics is the key to make sense of it."

Other announcements this week include enhancements to the IBM PureData System for Hadoop portfolio. Built-in archiving tools, simplified administration, and higher levels of security than open-source systems are included. There is also the release of an Information Governance Dashboard, which displays confidence levels in data sources in a business-friendly interface.

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