IBM has announced plans to acquire firm Netezza for approximately $1.7 billion (£1.1 billion) in cash in an effort to expand its business analytics offerings. Netezza's high performance analytics capabilities, offered through a data warehousing appliance, is designed to be set up quickly to help users gain faster insights into their business information, IBM said.

"IBM is bringing analytics to the masses," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software and Systems, in a statement. "We continue to evolve our capabilities for systems integration, bringing together optimized hardware and software, in response to increasing demand for technology that delivers true business value."

"Netezza strongly complements our business analytics capabilities and client base," said Steve Mills, an IBM Software and Systems senior vice president and group executive, in a statement.

Over the last four years, IBM has spent more than $12 billion to acquire 23 analytics related companies.

IBM sees Netezza as a strategic asset and hopes to expand the use of business analytics within its customer base, the company asserted. In a survey of CIO's, IBM had found that 83 percent had identified analytics as a top priority. The company has dedicated over 6,000 consultants to analytics services.

Netezza offers data warehouse appliances that the company has claimed are fast and easy to deploy. A partner with IBM for several years, Netezza has built its appliances using IBM software and hardware. IBM will fold Netezza's products within IBM's Information Management software portfolio.

"The addition of Netezza will reinforce IBM's focus in understanding clients' needs by providing them a broader set of analytics capabilities and bringing the power of analytics right into the hands of business users at every level within an organisation," said Arvind Krishna, Information Management, IBM information management general manager.

With over 500 employees worldwide, Netezza has approximately 350 enterprise users, including eHarmony, Estee Lauder, Nationwide Insurance, Neiman Marcus, Time Warner, Virgin Media and others. The acquisition is subject to Netezza shareholder approval and regulatory clearances, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter, IBM said.