The Integration Shuffle

IBM bought itself a ready-made basket of goodies designed for taking care of data warehouses. Next we'll see what the rest of the data integration market decides to do about it.
The data integration market is booming, and IBM announced this week that it wants to boom right along with it.

Big Blue agreed to fork out $1.1 billion in cash for Ascential Software, a firm that aggregates far-flung business data for analysis. Ascential has more than 3,000 customers, 550 of which it shares with IBM, and it saw 2004 revenue growth of 46 percent, to $271.9 million. You can get a quick rundown on the transaction from a story we're running from InformationWeek's Paul McDougall.

IBM's move potentially sets big change into motion in the data integration market, which is big and getting bigger. Increasingly acquisitive IBM cited research that says 40 percent of all IT budgets are now spent on integration, and the overall market for data integration will hit $13.6 billion in three years.

As we explore this week in a story from CRN's Rochelle Garner, Ascential delivers to IBM a ready-made basket of goodies designed for taking care of data warehouses. The company's products manage metadata, data profiling, data cleaning and data migration. Such capabilities are, Garner explains, "especially useful when crafting business intelligence systems." Indeed they are.

IBM's move strengthens its position vis-a-vis Oracle and Microsoft, both of which compete directly with IBM on the integration front. It also raises interesting questions about Informatica, which is now left as the most important integration pure-play on the scene. So what does Informatica have to say about the new integration landscape? The company released a short statement following IBM's announcement that says, in a nutshell, that its independence is its strength.

"A vendor-specific data integration offering may be favored by those customers needing to standardize on a single software provider," the company said, "but will not address the requirements for open, best-of-breed software from the broader marketplace." Informatica will, however. Or at least it appears that's going to be the firm's marketing position for now. Informatica also went out of its way to say it remains committed to all its partnerships, "including our long-standing relationship with IBM." Informatica's PowerExchange product has one version designed explicitly for IBM's DB2 database, and the two companies have long been allied on the data integration front.

IBM's announcement immediately sparked speculation that Informatica now becomes a takeover target. Any talk of a buyout is mere conjecture, of course, but here's something worth noting: Informatica CEO Sohaib Abbasi's last job before Informatica was a two-decade stint as an executive at--you guessed it--Oracle.