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IBM to buy DataMirror for real-time data integration software

Big Blue plans to buy real-time data integration software vendor DataMirror to bolster its Information On Demand strategy.

IBM announced today that it plans to buy real-time data integration software vendor DataMirror Corp. to support its information on demand strategy -- and quickly had to refute analyst concerns about potential product overlaps.

The Markham, Canada-based software maker will enhance IBM's existing portfolio with a "change data capture" product that offers the ability to continuously monitor heterogeneous systems, sense changes, capture changed data and deliver that information in near real-time to other applications. This functionality helps organizations speed decision-making and enhance business processes, explained Paraic Sweeney, vice president, product management with IBM.

Big Blue will pay $27 Canadian per share, or approximately $170 million Canadian (approximately $161 million U.S.) to acquire all outstanding DataMirror common shares. The deal is subject to customary approvals and closing conditions and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2007, according to the press release. DataMirror's products will not be integrated into other IBM products now but, rather, will complement IBM's Information Server suite, Sweeney said, allowing companies to monitor and act on information changes in near real-time, supporting e-business, master data management or business intelligence programs.

"DataMirror's change-data-capture mechanism complements the existing mechanisms we have in the Information Server," Sweeney said. "DataMirror has proven technology, support for a wide range of database sources and targets, and a scalable environment -- and we can take that through a broader channel. This combination gives our customers a trusted set of mechanisms to deliver information throughout their business at the speed they require."

DataMirror's 2,200 existing customers will continue to be fully supported, Sweeney said. The integration vendor's customer list includes FedEx Ground, First American Bank, and Tiffany & Co., which Sweeney said uses change-data-capture functions to support its e-commerce initiatives by sensing stock levels to present accurate product availability and shipping times to online shoppers. Now, DataMirror customers will also benefit from IBM's global support capabilities, Sweeney said. No updates to the product roadmap were released today, he said, and they probably won't be until the acquisition is completed.

Analysts note data integration software product overlaps; IBM responds

As has been the case with some of IBM's other acquisitions, such as enterprise content management vendor FileNet, there are potential technology overlaps, analysts noted. The Information Server suite already includes replication and transformation features, according to James Kobielus, principal analyst for data management at Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis, who examined the deal in a recent report.

"IBM will need to present a clear roadmap under which it will leverage [DataMirror's] technologies in all of these areas while minimizing unnecessary overlap with its existing portfolio," Kobielus said. "The most promising synergy between the two vendors' solution sets is the potential for IBM to deploy DataMirror's change-data-capture and log-based event-capture technology on heterogeneous data sources in lightweight footprints that minimize the performance impact on the source systems."

There is no "significant" product overlap, Sweeney responded. While IBM has similar technology designed for its databases, such as DB2, DataMirror offers support for a wide variety of data sources and targets, he said. DataMirror is "complementary" to its technology, so IBM will continue to sell and support the DataMirror products. The products can be used "alongside" Information Server products, he explained. For example, the Information Server could handle data transformation and extract, transform and load (ETL) processes, while DataMirror would add the ability to do change data capture.

"We're not contemplating any form of repackaging or integration into an existing product, but obviously we will work to enhance how the two products work together," Sweeney said. "This is about acquiring technology that complements our current product portfolio that we can take through a much larger sales channel."

A new addition to IBM's "information on demand" strategy

DataMirror is the 21st acquisition intended to complement IBM's "information on demand" strategy, Sweeney said.

IBM developed the "information on demand" theme to address the needs of organizations that have installed a variety of siloed business applications over the years and now need to better integrate and share information, he explained. The initiative spans IBM's Information Server suite, master data management, enterprise content management and other technology products. "Information on demand" is not a product suite, Sweeney said. Rather, it's a theme.

"Information on demand is all about unleashing information that's embodied in those individual applications and delivering it to a much wider variety of potential users in a flexible way," Sweeney said. "Think of 'information on demand' as an overarching theme to help explain the potential benefits of applying a range of technologies that can be applied individually or over time, in concert with each other, to accomplish an overall goal."

Other "information on demand" related acquisitions have included FileNet for enterprise content management, Ascential for data integration, and DWL for customer data integration.

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