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IBM Buys Cross-Platform Content-Management Provider

IBM acquires software developer Venetica to pump up the content-handling capabilities of its DB2 platform.
IBM said Thursday that it has acquired Venetica Corp. for an undisclosed sum. Venetica makes content-management software that businesses use to index and sort digital files ranging from word-processing documents to still images and Web pages. IBM expects to close the deal around the beginning of the fourth quarter, according to Jon Prial, marketing and strategy VP for IBM's DB2 Information Management Division.

Venetica's software products, such as VeniceBridge, let users in corporate environments access documents that are stored in different formats across multiple systems within an enterprise, such as EMC/Documentum, Stellent, Hummingbird, FileNet, and Interwoven. IBM says it plans to integrate Venetica's technology into its DB2 Information Integrator product. It will be sold through the company's Information Management Software group, led by Janet Perna.

Analysts say IBM wants a bigger piece of the market for business integration software, which research firm IDC estimates will exceed $10 billion by 2006. "Anything that will help simplify corporate infrastructures is going to be seeing a lot of interest," says Chris Foster, an analyst at Technology Business Research.

Today IBM offers DB2 Information Integrator and DB2 Information Integrator for Content, the latter for integrating unstructured content such as documents, E-mails, and images that by some estimates make up as much as 85% of all information within most businesses.

But that product was largely limited to managing unstructured data in IBM content-management repositories, says Forrester Research analyst Philip Russom. The Venetica acquisition shows that IBM is serious about keeping its information-integration products as open as possible, he says.

In April IBM struck a deal with Venetica to jointly sell VeniceBridge as a complement to the IBM software. That relationship ultimately led to the acquisition.

Russom says the Venetica technology also will extend the capabilities of the search technology that IBM is adding to a new release of DB2 Information Integrator, code-named Masala, which is due early in the fourth quarter. The market for tools to integrate unstructured content is small, currently only about $50 million, but is expected to grow as more companies find themselves wrestling with the problem, Russom says.