Big Blue is making yet another cloud Relevant Products/Services investment. This time, IBM is moving to buy Cloudant, a privately held database-as-a-service company that promises to give developers a way to create next generation mobile and Web apps quickly.

Cloudant will extend Big Blue’s big data Relevant Products/Services and analytics Relevant Products/Services, cloud computing Relevant Products/Services and mobile offerings. Enterprises in industries like gaming, financial services, mobile device manufacturers, online learning, retail and healthcare are already using Cloudant technology. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"IBM is leading the charge in helping its clients take advantage of big data, cloud and mobile," said Sean Poulley, vice president of Databases & Data Warehousing at IBM. "Cloudant sits squarely at the nexus of these three key transformational areas and enables clients to rapidly deliver an entirely new level of innovative, engaging and data-rich apps to the marketplace."

The Big Data Challenge

From IBM’s perspective, organizations are being challenged to quickly create engaging and data-rich mobile and web apps. Certainly, mobile device usage is proliferating rapidly around the world -- and that’s creating a surging demand for apps and an increased volume of structured and unstructured geographically encoded and globally distributed data.

Five petabytes of data are created every day by mobile phone subscribers around the world, according to IBM. To meet this growing demand, the company said, data must be always available and easily accessed by massive volumes and networks of users and devices.

Here’s more about Cloudant: The company is an active participant and contributor to the open source database community Apache CouchDBTM and delivers high availability, elastic scalability and innovative mobile device synchronization. Cloudant's JSON cloud-based data service allows mobile and Web developers to store and access the explosion of mobile data using an application programming interface that is supposedly easier to use than alternatives.

We caught up with Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, to get his take on the acquisition. He told us he can see why IBM is bullish on the buy, as it gives the company a universal data layer that bolsters its burgeoning cloud portfolio.

“Cloudant specializes in moving and connecting data, as well as just hosting data because it is a database-as-a-service. Down the road I think it’s something customers can use to explore hybrid solutions, like cloud on premises or multi-cloud solutions because Cloudant and IBM already have experience running on other cloud platforms like Amazon AWS. This makes that easier for developers,” Shimmin said. “ Developers are not going to have to worry about going back and rewriting all their interfaces to get to the data.”

The SoftLayer Connection

Increasingly, developers have embraced NoSQL databases because of their flexibility, and JSON has become the predominant NoSQL database technology for mobile and Web app developers. Cloudant technology ensures that app developers no longer need to be experts in database management, while database administrators can focus on higher value tasks beyond day-to-day administration.

Cloudant is already an integral to IBM's MobileFirst solutions. IBM said it enables developers who use Worklight, its mobile app development software Relevant Products/Services, to quickly create flexible, reliable and scalable apps that include a variety of structured and unstructured data. But Big Blue expects Cloudant to strengthen its cloud solutions by providing developers with the tools and resources to build, test, deploy and scale cloud apps on a variety of hosting layers. Cloudant runs on the IBM SoftLayer platform today and extends IBM’s recent investment in the SoftLayer cloud infrastructure Relevant Products/Services.

"Cloudant’s decision to join IBM highlights that the next wave of enterprise technology innovation has moved beyond infrastructure and is now happening at the data layer," said Cloudant CEO Derek Schoettle. "Our relationship with IBM and SoftLayer has evolved significantly in recent years, with more connected devices generating data at an unprecedented rate. Cloudant's NoSQL expertise, combined with IBM’s enterprise reliability and resources, adds data layer services to the IBM portfolio that others can’t match."