What is a data lake?

Data lakes are next-generation data management solutions that can help your business users and data scientists meet big data challenges and drive new levels of real-time analytics. Their highly scalable environment supports extremely large data volumes, collecting petabytes of structured, semi-structured and unstructured data in its native format from a variety of sources, including those previously untapped such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices and social media. As an element in your data management strategy, data lakes complement your data warehouse and business intelligence solutions. They provide the framework for machine learning and real-time advanced analytics in a collaborative environment. 

What is a data lake?

What is a data lake? (05:17)

Why IBM for data lake solutions

Enterprise-grade open source

IBM is committed to open source technologies and the security, interoperability and data access they bring to advanced analytics.

Partnership with Cloudera

Together, IBM and Cloudera provide a choice of integrated technologies to build, manage and use a data lake for data science at scale.

Multivendor software support

IBM offers a single point of contact, regardless of software edition. A Forrester Research study finds IBM clients can save as much as 25%.

Big data with IBM and Cloudera

IBM and Cloudera work together to deliver enterprise-class data lake solutions to help you replace data silos with an agile, scalable platform that can collect, store, govern and secure raw data from across your business, making it ready for analysis. Available on premises or on cloud, Cloudera’s advanced data platform combined with IBM products, services and multivendor support positions you to unlock the value of AI.

Cloudera logo

Data lake solutions

Step 1: Build a foundation

On-premises, cloud or hybrid options

IBM® Power® Systems

Simplify with a cloud data lake deployment or use IBM compute and storage to build out an on-premises data lake.

IBM Spectrum® Scale

Optimize your storage capacity while protecting and efficiently moving enterprise data in your hybrid environment.

Step 2: Manage and govern

Accelerate results and improve accuracy

Security-rich, governed platform

Optimize your data lake solution with an industry-leading, enterprise-grade big data platform offered by IBM and Cloudera.

Data lake governance

Use time-tested data governance solutions that improve data quality, integration and security.

Step 3: Access and analyze

Bring speed and AI to your data analysis

IBM Db2® Big SQL

Use an enterprise-grade, hybrid, ANSI-compliant SQL engine to gain massively parallel processing and advanced data queries in your data lake.

IBM Big Replicate

Replicate data as it streams into your data lake so files do not need to be fully written or closed before transfer.

IBM Watson® Studio

Build and train AI and machine learning models and prepare and analyze data from your data lake, all in a flexible hybrid cloud environment.

Data lake use cases

Financial services

Improve customer targeting, make better informed underwriting decisions and provide better claims management while mitigating risk and fraud.


Improve direct patient care, the customer experience, and administrative, insurance and payment processing while responding quicker to emerging diseases.

Communications service providers

Optimize network monitoring, management and performance to help mitigate risk and reduce costs and improve customer targeting and service.

Data lake resources

Connect more data

Integrate a data lake into your data management strategy to generate new insights from more data types and sources.

A robust, governed data lake for AI

Explore the storage and governance technologies needed for your data lake to deliver AI-ready data.

Data lake or data warehouse?

Learn the use cases that unite data lakes and data warehouses for better big data analytics from Ventana Research.

Data lake myths

Accelerate your research by exploring five myths about data lakes, such as "Hadoop is the only data lake."

Storage for your AI journey

Build high performance AI-optimized analytics solutions with new products from IBM Storage.

Big data with IBM and Cloudera

Learn from IBM and Cloudera experts how you can connect your data lifecycle and accelerate your journey to hybrid cloud and AI.

Get started

Set up a no-cost, one-on-one call with IBM to explore data lake solutions.