IBM Plans Data Analytics Push With New San Francisco Tech Center

International Business Machines Corp. is pouring resources into a free software product as the giant seeks to gain influence in a fast-growing area of technology.

The Armonk, New York-based company has created a Technology Center in San Francisco to focus on a free open-source software project called Spark, according to IBM executive Rob Thomas. IBM hired 20 people within the last month, Thomas said in a video posted online June 3.

“We’re going to be scaling this up to hundreds of people that are just focused on Spark open source and how we evolve that for the enterprise,” Thomas said.

Spark is a framework developed originally at the University of California at Berkeley that helps companies process large amounts of data rapidly, by storing information within the fast memory of computers. It is seen by many in Silicon Valley as a potential successor to Hadoop, which has spawned a variety of companies including Cloudera Inc., MapR Technologies Inc. and Hortonworks Inc.

“This is a much more significant bet than even what we have done on Hadoop to be frank,” Thomas said. “We think Spark is going to be enormous and change the face of enterprise IT.”

Steve Tomasco, a spokesman for IBM, didn’t immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment on the center.

IBM has been trying to find revenue growth from its data analytics business as demand has slumped for its older software and services. The tech giant has tried to court startups to develop new products using the company’s tools, while taking a cut of sales.

IBM is due Monday to give a presentation at a San Francisco conference called “Accelerating Innovation withSpark,” according to the schedule posted online.

For more, read this QuickTake: IBM’s Big Blues

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