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January 14, 2016

Cambridge Semantics Buys Graph Database Specialist

George Leopold

Cambridge Semantics, a provider of analytics and data management services, is acquiring the intellectual property portfolio of graph database specialist SPARQL City, whose executive team also will join the buyer.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Boston-based Cambridge Semantics said Wednesday (Jan.13) the acquisition would allow it to expand its Anzo “smart data” platform by combining it with SPARQL City’s in-memory graph query engine. The Anzo platform is based on semantic web technology designed to help customers develop interactive, real-time data analytics capabilities.

“The SPARQL City in-memory graph query engine allows users to conduct exploratory analytics at big data scale, interactively,” Cambridge Semantics CEO Chuck Pieper asserted in a statement announcing the acquisition.

Joining Cambridge is SPARQL City co-founder Barry Zane and other senior executives. Zane, a serial entrepreneur, also founded ParAccel, whose product became the basis for Amazon’s Redshift data warehouse management service. Brian Chu, co-founder of both SPARQL City and ParAccel, and Babu Tammisetti, former vice president of technology at SPARQL City, also will join Cambridge Semantics.

Standards-based semantic approaches have slowly made their way from the back office to emerging applications like big data governance. Cambridge Semantics said it would target its beefed up Anzo data platform at drug discovery and life sciences, financial services and homeland security applications.

Its current approach leverages semantic web technology to glean insights from data through the semantic linking and analysis of structured and unstructured data from internal or external sources. The acquisition of SPARQL City’s graph analysis portfolio would bring “big data scale to semantic search for the first time,” the company claimed.

The acquisition builds on earlier collaboration between the two companies that extends back more than two years. In 2014, the partners announced they would work together to offer a Hadoop-based graph database infrastructure with semantic understanding to squeeze more insights from big data. SPARQL City touted its graph analytics engine as a faster way to query semi-structured and structured data stored in larger datasets, then provide graphical representations of the resulting relationships.

“Enterprises want to analyze more sets of data from more diverse sources with an entirely new set of questions on how things relate to each other,” said Zane, who will now serve as vice president of engineering at Cambridge Semantics.

Zane’s ParAccel database (also known as Amazon Redshift) was acquired by Actian in April 2013. Actian also was an investor in San Diego-based SPARQL City.

Zane has worked in the database analytics industry for nearly four decades. Besides SPARQL City and ParAccel, he co-founded Netezza and served as vice president for architecture before IBM acquired the company in 2010. He also served as chief technology officer at Applix Inc., a developer of database server software. IBM eventually acquired that technology in a 2008 deal.

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