Why IBM is betting big on this new big data technology

June 10, 2015, 6:55 PM UTC
Photograph by Ben Hider — Getty Images

IBM plans a bigger push into data crunching by opening a new technology center in San Francisco dedicated to a trendy technology that’s making waves in Silicon Valley, Bloomberg News reports.

Rob Thomas, an IBM (IBM) vice president in charge of big data, said in an online video seen by Bloomberg and later removed that the new center will eventually house “hundreds of people” working primarily with a free technology known as Spark.

Spark lets businesses process data more quickly than what is currently possible using another open-source technology known as Hadoop, according to many analysts. Among other things, companies use Spark for speedy analysis of sales data like how many department store shoppers bought a particular shirt.

The technology can work with or replace Hadoop, which has gained traction in recent years with companies like Yahoo (YHOO) and Facebook (FB) that use it to store and process huge amounts of data. Like with a lot of technology, what’s hot in data crunching changes quickly as new software emerges that is faster and easier to use.

It’s because of this speed and ability to process data to quickly that has IBM excited. The 100-year old company has been public with its support for the technology and has claimed that it can be used to boost the performance of Hadoop.

IBM has made data analysis a big part of its sales pitch, part of which revolves around Watson, the robot that made an appearance on the Jeopardy TV game show. In April, the company launched its Watson Health service that companies can use to analyze healthcare data.

It’s unclear what IBM plans for Spark. But it could help with making the underlying technologies behind Watson or similar services come to life.

By supporting Spark and attracting employees who know how to use the infrastructure technology, IBM can claim that it’s ahead of the pack in cutting-edge technology.

With its hardware sales generating less revenue than it they once did, IBM increasingly relying on new technology to revitalize its business. Big data technology may be a bigger part of the plan.

For more on IBM and big data, check out the following Fortune video:

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