On Tuesday, IBM launched its Data Science Experience, a cloud-based development environment for Apache Spark that aims to help data scientists work more fluidly with developers to build intelligent apps.

The Data Science Experience is available through IBM’s Cloud Bluemix platform, and it provides curated data sets, open source toolsets, and a collaborative space. In theory, it will allow data scientists to provide developers with better insights and data-driven models to be used in application development.

SEE: Quick glossary: Big data (Tech Pro Research)

The use of Apache Spark as the foundation of the platform is no surprise, as IBM has made extensive investments in the technology, including a $300 million investment to develop Spark as an “analytics operating system.” The Data Science Experience is specifically focused SparkR, SparkSQL and Apache SparkML.

Being an open source project is a big part of the potential success of the Data Science Experience as IBM believes it will help ease the process of bringing in, curating, and analyzing data. Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, said that it “opens the door for unprecedented innovation from the open source community.”

Other tools and resources such as those from H2O, RStudio, and Jupyter Notebooks will also be available on the platform.

One of the biggest value additions of IBM’s new platform is the fact that it is cloud-based. This could further democratize data analytics within an organization, as it could make the process more accessible to everyday employees as well as data scientists.

“With Data Science, the major roadblock is having access to large data sets and having the ability to work with so much data. With today’s announcement, clients can have both,” Picciano said.

SEE: Mobile analytics: 10 great apps to visualize big data on the go (TechRepublic)

AI and machine learning capabilities continue to grow as one of the defining features of the future of enterprise technology. IBM is doing well to position itself as the provider of a platform that makes it easier to build those capabilities into a business app.

In the press release announcing the platform, IBM noted three different use cases from existing customers. Bernhardt Furniture used IBM tools and Apache Spark to build a virtual furniture showroom and better analyze traffic and product data. The USA Cycling Women’s Team Pursuit are using the platform to more quickly analyze rider data in training. Additionally, IBM is working with NASA and the SETI Institute are working together to analyze deep space radio signals to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Yes…they’re using big data to look for aliens.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. IBM recently launched the Data Science Experience, a cloud developer environment for Apache Spark that wants to help data scientists and developers build more intelligent apps together.
  2. Being that the platform is both open source and cloud-based, it could further democratize the use of big data in the enterprise, especially among developers and project managers.
  3. The Data Science Experience could also serve as a go-to tool for adding AI or machine learning capabilities, which are growing in popularity among enterprise organizations.