EMC partners with Acxiom to build grid-based BI systems

EMC announced Thursday that it has signed a partnership with data integration provider Acxiom that will allow EMC to offer hosted grid storage services and eventually help users build out more scalable and flexible grid-based storage.

Under the terms of the partnership, EMC and Acxiom will first jointly develop and market information grid technology for business intelligence (BI) applications to customers as a hosted offering from Acxiom. Within two years, EMC plans to offer the BI technology based on the Acxiom grid software and its own Celerra network attached storage and related software, according to an EMC spokesman and an industry analyst.

Charles Morgan, Acxiom's chairman, said the two companies "will be able to deliver a configurable, scalable platform in a single location where services and data content can be manipulated, stored and made available to information-centric applications."

As part of the agreement, EMC also acquired Acxiom's information grid software for US$30 million.

John Webster, an analyst with the Data Mobility Group, said the partnership is a clear indication that EMC is moving into the information management space. That move began with the purchase of content management vendor Documentum for US$1.7 billion in 2003.

"If you look at Acxiom's original architecture, it's a traditional data warehousing, data mining architecture where you bring data in, clean it and massage it and deliver it in the format users need," Webster said. "But what this deal has done, in a way, is to put a stake in the ground to say, 'This is not yesterday's architecture. It's not the traditional data warehousing architecture. This is a very different thing.'"

In a project that began in 1999, Acxiom built its own 6,000-node grid, with two processors per node, using software developed in-house to meet the information management and time-to-market needs of Acxiom and its clients. The infrastructure is also used to host an analytics service and supports a reference base of 20 billion records and two petabytes of company and customer data.

"We've been evaluating grid software for some time and found Acxiom's grid solution to be by far the most advanced. Together, Acxiom and EMC will provide customers with the industry's most complete, grid-based information infrastructure for information-intensive applications," said Jeff Nick, EMC's chief technology officer.

Acxiom will continue to have access to the information grid software to use in its business.

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