IBM Awards UM Power Systems Server for Real-Time Data Analysis

December 08, 2014

MISSOULA – University of Montana students studying big data have a new tool coming their way. The IBM Power Systems Organization recently granted a scale-out POWER8 processor-based server to the University, which will allow UM students to run IBM InfoSphere Streams software on a state-of-the-art platform that will aid student learning.

The grant was part of IBM’s Shared University Research Awards, a competitive, worldwide, equipment award program designed to promote research in areas of mutual value and interest to IBM and universities.

“This donation allows students to analyze real-time data using the new IBM POWER8 processor, the first processor designed and optimized for big data,” said Eric Tangedahl, UM School of Business Administration’s director of information technology and a faculty member.

UM leads the country in teaching IBM InfoSphere Streams software at the undergraduate level. Currently the software is being taught in two UM courses: Introduction to Real-Time Analytics and Big Data Projects.

“With this grant, our students will gain hands-on experience that not many other students will have access to,” Tangedahl said. “Now, they won’t be held back by hardware performance issues.”

The software allows students to analyze data in real time by extracting information from data in motion. Applications of the software include financial decision-making – being able to track the purchase and sale of stocks in real time – and using social media to monitor a real-time stream of Tweets to analyze public sentiment and anticipate group behavior.

IBM’s donation will be used by UM students and faculty members. In exchange, UM will provide IBM with instructional materials for teaching the InfoSphere Streams programming language.

“I am proud of UM’s focus on building its data sciences program,” IBM Partnership Executive Mary Olson said. “Existing Montana businesses, the vibrant entrepreneurial community and research at every level within the University will benefit from the talent this program develops. UM is building skills for the jobs of tomorrow.”

In order for a university to be eligible for an IBM Shared University Research Award, someone within IBM must sponsor the nomination. The IBM Power Systems Organization sponsored this award, which includes funding, configuration and support. The nomination also was actively supported by Olson and IBM Academic Initiative Skills Leader and Architect Valinda Scarbro Kennedy.

The SUR Awards program is designed to promote collaborative research projects that bring value to IBM, the technology community and the world; increase access to IBM technologies for research and in curriculum development; and provide opportunities within IBM for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

IBM’s donation supports UM’s Data Science Initiative, which trains students to become data scientists, data architects and analysts.

For more information on UM’s use of this award call Tangedahl at 406-243-2249 or email

Contact: Eric Tangedahl, UM School of Business Administration director of information technology, 406-243-6620,