IBM Acquires Content Management Vendor Venetica

IBM has announced plans to snap up privately held content-management software maker Venetica, marking the latest addition to its ever-expanding portfolio of integration technologies. The terms of the deal, which IBM expects to complete by the end of 2004, were not disclosed. Venetica creates software that facilitates access to unstructured data across the enterprise. Unlike the information stored according to standardized schema in a relational database, unstructured data, typically in the form of business documents, file images, and email messages, is far more difficult to analyze or put to use. Venetica's existing customer base includes Wachovia, Allstate, and the U.S. Government. IBM stated in its announcement of the deal that Venetica will become part of the IBM Software Group's Data Management unit, which now includes recent acquisitions Tarian, Green Pasture, CrossAccess, Alphablox, and the database assets of Informix. According to Philip Russom, principal analyst at Forrester Research, this latest move is just another example of IBM's one-track mind. "IBM is remarkably consistent in its strategy," he says. The company has been "building out and acquiring a wide array of integration technologies [to support its] two different brands, DB2, the database, and Websphere, the application server." The goal is "to make DB2 and Websphere interoperate more directly." He says that the message delivered to analysts by Janet Perna, general manager of IBM's Information Management Software Group, boils down to, "We're selling information infrastructure." IBM spokeswoman Laurie Friedman tells CRM magazine that the company's approach to dealing with information is all about "leaving the data where it lives." Venetica's technology will become part of IBM's Information Integration portfolio, and Friedman says it "addresses a growing customer need to gain access to unstructured data.... [The acquisition] is going to add a lot of non-IBM unstructured data sources to our portfolio, [and provide] a common, virtualized view of data for our customers." Where the existing Information Integrator product did provide some access to content handled by other applications, "this makes it easier," Friedman says. "It's extending the reach into the unstructured [data] world--to FileNet and Hummingbird and Stellent." IBM cites industry estimates that about 85 percent of companies' data currently resides in unstructured formats, and that companies spend as much as 40 percent of their annual IT budgets on integration. Gartner Dataquest predicts the business integration market to reach $10 billion by 2006. Forrester's Russom says the kind of content integration capabilities that Venetica provides is "very new, in a very small market...[and] is a fairly small piece within content management. It's probably going to be another year or so before spending in this area ramps up." Other companies, such as Microsoft and Oracle, have similar initiatives under way, Russom says, with "a long list of integration products, but IBM's products interoperate." IBM may not have needed to own Venetica's technology--the company has been reselling Venetica software since 2000--but, Russom says, "it would have taken a long time to build that many adapters." Related articles:
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