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Microsoft to buy Israeli data quality startup

Microsoft will acquire Zoomix, an Israeli startup specializing in data quality, to beef up its relational database management system, SQL Server.

Microsoft has agreed to acquire Zoomix, a small Israeli startup specializing in data quality software, a feature that Microsoft will require in order to compete with SAP and IBM, according to one analyst.

Microsoft plans to incorporate Zoomix's data quality software with SQL Server as part of its continuing efforts to make the relational database management system "a complete data platform for all data management needs," Microsoft said in a statement.

According to the Zoomix website, the Jerusalem-based firm's software uses semantic and linguistic analysis "with machine learning" to automatically and accurately parse, match, classify and clean data.

"Zoomix will contribute a critical layer of data improvement to Microsoft's SQL Server Data Platform," Moshe Lichtman, vice president of Microsoft International, said in a statement. "This capability will enable organizations to meet the requirements of complex information systems, and to streamline business processes, and is therefore expected to have a great impact on the organization's bottom line."

SQL Server 2008 is scheduled for release later this quarter and is expected to include updated business intelligence and policy-based management features.

Ted Friedman, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., said the acquisition of Zoomix will help Microsoft fill a major gap in its data management stack.

"Microsoft had very little data quality competency within its own technology," Friedman said. "Its decision to go after some data quality technology makes perfect sense and is a good decision because there's a lot of demand for those capabilities, and Microsoft was late there."

The addition of Zoomix's data quality software should ultimately help Microsoft compete with fellow software mega-vendors.

"SAP and IBM, in particular, have fairly substantial data quality technology in their portfolios, and I suspect that in certain types of competitive situations that was becoming a bit of a pain point for Microsoft," Friedman said.

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He also lauded Zoomix for its domain-agnostic approach to data quality, but wondered how Microsoft plans to position its newly acquired data quality technology.

"Will Microsoft somehow take Zoomix technology and manifest it as operators within SQL Server integration services, or will they allow it to be deployed in a standalone mode?" Friedman said. "There's demand in the market for both."

Neither company revealed terms of the deal, nor when they expect to complete the acquisition. Once finalized, Zoomix's development staff will join the Microsoft research and development center in Israel, according to the companies.

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