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December 8, 2015
IBM’s Shopping Spree Continues
Posted by KMontgomery

IBM’s Shopping Spree Continues

Clearleap is Big Blue’s latest cloud play.

It’s been a few weeks since IBM announced an acquisition so we were due: And here it is: Big Blue is buying Clearleap, a company that processes and packages video for distribution to all sorts of devices.

The company, based in Duluth, Georgia, claims customers including HBO, Scripps Howard Networks, BBC America, The Travel Channel and Verizon Networks.

Terms, as usual, were not disclosed, but IBM (IBM -1.38%) positioned this as another strategic move, this one aimed at making the IBM Cloud a major video delivery platform. Video, by IBM’s estimation, will make up nearly two-thirds (65%) of all business Internet traffic by 2019, and is a key piece of what some IBM and others refer to as “dark data.”

Dark data is the buzzy term for the information that is not the typical row-and-column databases and Word documents, that companies generate and aggregate but is unsearchable (actually unreadable) to computers. This is the stuff sitting in the corporate closet, not necessarily paying off in the biggest way for its aggregator. How nice if some technology company could help companies make sense of that mess and even profit from it. Guessing that’s the play here.

Last month IBM bought the data trove and assets of The Weather Company, but not the cable channel itself as well as Merge Healthcare, which deals with medical images and electronic medical records. By that time, it had already acquired Cleversafe which specializes in speeding up storage, management and retrieval of big unstructured data files and Aspera, which transfers massive files to and between clouds. And, hardly anything says “massive files” like video.

Clearleap was (and is) an Amazon (AMZN -0.83%) Web Services partner so it’ll be interesting if IBM makes a change there. IBM’s SoftLayer cloud competes AWS, as well as Microsoft (MSFT -1.00%) Azure and Google (GOOG -1.08%) Cloud Platform. These are all public cloud providers, meaning they run huge data centers around the world with massive arrays of servers, storage and networking available for rent by businesses. AWS is, by far, the leader in this growing category.

According to its statement announcing the deal, Clearlap offers an “open API framework” that enables third parties to build video right into their applications and customize management and workflow for their own needs. IBM will offer those APIs on its Bluemix cloud development platform next year.

Clearleap competitors include Ooyala and services from traditional networking companies like Cisco (CSCO -1.53%). Clearleap has about 100 employees and has raised about $45 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.


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