IBM and Hortonworks are moving closer together

IBM has announced to expand its partnership with Hortonworks, a move reflecting IBM’s overall strategy. Hortonworks main focus has always been on data collection and data storage. However, what used to be an open question is how actual value can be generated from this data.

This question has now been answered in multiple ways: IBM will offer and support the Hadoop Distributed File System HDFS for big data projects of its customers and add value by applying Watson Analytics and other Watson technologies on top of Hadoop. At the same time, IBM will retire some of its products, such as IBM Big Sheets and parts of IBM Big Insights.

This is in itself a clear commitment to open source, in this case in the shape of Hadoop technologies. On the other hand, IBM will keep other products, e.g. Big SQL, particularly those that really build the basis for differentiation and added value. Hortonworks will in turn integrate IBM’s Big SQL as an add-on offering on top of HDFS; cross-support (1st, 2nd, 3rd level) agreements are in place, and migration tools from the IBM products to the Hortonworks products will be offered.

This is yet another indicator of IBM's dedication to the open source/open innovation business model: Hardware that becomes a commodity is sold (examples are the sale of its PC and Intel-based server business to Lenovo or of its semiconductor business to GlobalFoundries), while software turning into a commodity will be replaced by open-source technologies. Based on this approach, IBM can hit two birds with one stone: stay outside the sometimes ruinous competition in the commodity markets while at the same time drive innovation through partnership models and open innovation.

Other parts of IBM's announcement fit well into the picture: customers will receive the DB2 Developer-C Edition for free and migration costs from an Oracle database to DB2 (having an Oracle skin) is claimed to be reduced by a staggering 80%.

The bottom line is that IBM’s open-source strategy is reliable and customers will benefit from commodity technology and lower prices; at the same time it is ensured that value-added services are integrated well into the standard systems.