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IBM To Buy Platform Computing

Canadian vendor offers tools that help organizations manage distributed environments and build private clouds.

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IBM on Tuesday continued its campaign to broaden its portfolio of products and services that help companies deal with mushrooming data-management tasks, announcing the acquisition of Platform Computing.

Financial terms were not disclosed. IBM said it expects the transaction to close in the fourth quarter.

Toronto-based Platform Computing develops systems that are designed to ease the management of distributed computing environments, from departmental clusters to full enterprise-wide grids. It also offers software and tools that automate many of the tasks involved in creating an infrastructure-as-a-service environment for private clouds.

[ IBM is competing for hardware and software contracts, and winning some deals. Read IBM Tops Oracle, HP In Data Center Win. ]

Many of Platform Computing's more than 2,000 customers use the company's offerings to manage high-performance computing (HPC) centers used for advanced applications like materials engineering, financial modeling, and physics research.

"IBM considers the acquisition of Platform Computing to be a strategic element for the transformation of HPC into the high-growth segment of technical computing and an important part of our smarter computing strategy," said Helene Armitage, general manager for IBM's Systems Software group, in a statement.

Platform Computing's roster of blue chip customers includes CERN, Citigroup, Pratt & Whitney, and Red Bull Racing. It offers versions of its products for computing platforms from a number of major vendors, including Cray, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Red Hat, as well as IBM.

Company officials said that joining IBM would give their organization, which employs about 530 workers worldwide, greater resources and access to more customers.

"This acquisition will enable Platform Computing to better serve our customers by leveraging the IBM solution portfolio and extend the reach of our pioneering distributed computing software for broader enterprise adoption," said CEO Songnian Zhou, in a statement.

The deal for Platform Computing is the latest step in IBM's campaign to bolster its infrastructure offerings with applications and tools that help businesses manage so-called Big Data sets and give them greater insight into their operations to improve forecasting and planning.

Over the past five years, Big Blue has spent $14 billion acquiring business intelligence and analytics software companies to support the initiative.

Last month, IBM announced a deal to acquire i2, a Cambridge, U.K.-based company that develops software that helps organizations use data analysis to detect fraud and spot security threats. Also in September, Big Blue struck an agreement to buy out risk assessment specialist Algorithmics for $387 million.

IBM last year spent $1.7 billion to acquire data warehousing and analytics specialist Netezza, and in 2009 it bought statistical analysis software developer SPSS for $1.2 billion. In 2008, IBM acquired business intelligence vendor Cognos for $5 billion.

IBM shares were off 0.96%, to $184.83, in morning trading Tuesday.

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