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IBM has decided to buy high-speed data-transferring company Aspera, the hardware and software giant announced today in a press release. IBM didn’t disclose terms of the deal.

Assuming the deal goes through, Big Blue could benefit from technology that helps in a couple of areas the company has been emphasizing in the past few years: cloud computing and big data.

Aspera created and patented a technology called fasp, a (strangely lowercase) acronym that stands for fast, active, secure protocol. It speeds up the time it takes for data to flow over networks, even when those networks aren’t in the best shape, and even when file sizes are huge. Users can determine how fast data gets moved and how bandwidth gets allocated. And the company says fasp is faster than WAN acceleration software and hardware (boxes that accelerates the movement of data across wide-area networks).

One Aspera case study, from video encoding company Zencoder, talks about transfer rates to a cloud of more than 500 megabits per second.

That technology should help companies and governments lower the amount of time it takes to move data up to an external cloud, or from one cloud to another.

IBM has been throwing internal resources at security issues stemming from the shipment of data across clouds, and with Aspera’s technology, it can gain some ground when it comes to speed.

Interestingly, through one of its services, Aspera on Demand, Aspera has been pushing data to three of IBM’s competitors in the public cloud market, including Microsoft’s Windows Azure, the Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services (arguably IBM’s public cloud enemy No. 1). While IBM might be amenable to the idea of Aspera continuing to do this — after all, it has shown interest in technology that prevents cloud vendor lock-in — I wouldn’t be surprised to see a route to IBM’s own cloud storage added into Aspera’s list of capabilities after the acquisition is complete.

Regardless of the way IBM decides to proceed, a technology for speedily uploading large data sets to public clouds should boost more than just IBM’s cloud storage business. It’s one way to enable researchers from multiple locations to view and analyze big data, too — and IBM has a big interest in big data. This could be a good fit for genome sequencing data, for example, because shipping hard drives takes too much time and money.

Plus, some companies don’t want to wait until the end of the quarter to understand how much money they’ve been making and how much inventory has come and gone. Getting faster insights into operations, and ultimately providing real-time views of a company’s operational data, has become a mantra in big data this year. Aspera could help transfer data more quickly and reliably, ensuring that powerful processing systems, such as those in Hadoop, can deliver comprehensive results that much faster.

Aspera started in 2004. It claims more than 2,000 customers. Data from VentureBeat’s VB Profiles shows the company’s annual revenue falls between $10 million and $20 million.


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