IBM is to buy Ascential Software, the Massachusetts-based company that acquired Mercator, the data integration business that had previously acquired Braid. The cash deal, which is worth $1.1 billion, follows a four year partnership between the two firms
Ascential Software specializes in enterprise data integration software, which is used for data warehouses, business intelligence systems, consolidating applications, creating and managing master repositories of business information, and enabling on demand data access.
IBM says large retailers use Ascential’s software to gather, standardize and structure sales information from many channels (Internet, catalogs, storefronts, for example) so they get a single view of vendors and customers from disparate systems, and make rapid inventory and pricing adjustments as demand changes.
IDC, a global market intelligence and advisory firm in the information technology and telecommunications industries, projects that worldwide data integration spending will increase from $9.3 billion in 2003 to $13.6 billion in 2008. IDC adds that the top three business issues most organizations say need to be addressed through integration are to respond faster to changing business needs, improve operational productivity of employees, and provide better service to customers.
“Information integration is an important enabler of an on demand business strategy and customers are increasing their investments in software that allows them to rapidly analyze, consolidate and extract value from their business data,” says Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Software Group. “The acquisition of Ascential Software expands IBM’s open information integration platform and strengthens our ability to help customers create an environment that delivers the data they need, in the right form, to the right location, and at the right time. That’s the mark of an on demand business.”
Ascential is the latest in a string of investments IBM has made in information integration in recent years. Acquisitions have included Venetica, which automates the handling of unstructured information.
Ascential Software will become a business unit within IBM’s Information Management software division. Its technology and solutions will be incorporated into IBM’s Information Management and Software Group offerings, in particular, the WebSphere Information Integrator product portfolio.
WebSphere Information Integrator software aims to enable customers to centrally manage and access data that is stored across a variety of structured and unstructured sources, both from IBM and non-IBM vendors, in real-time.
Ascential Software already integrates with IBM WebSphere Business Integration software as part of a services-oriented architecture (SOA). Many customers already use Ascential’s data-integration software along with IBM’s database and middleware products.
Ascential Software experienced rapid growth in 2004, with a reported 46 percent total revenue increase to $271.9 million. Ascential has over 3,000 customers and partners, of which 550 are already IBM customers.