Big Blue enters mid-market BI space with DataMirror buy

IBM’s $170 million acquisition of a Markham, Ont.-based business intelligence company may not dramatically change its product portfolio, however, the investment will fill previously lacking areas of expertise, according to an analyst.

The Markham, Ont.-based vendor announced today it purchased DataMirror, a provider of real-time data integration and protection products.

The acquisition will immediately bring in-house some well-regarded technology that falls “outside and well beyond IBM’s internal area of competence,” said Mike Karp, senior analyst with Boulder, Colo.-based IT consultancy Enterprise Management Associates Inc.

“This gets IBM to a point where they need to be and gets them there very quickly,” he said, adding IBM may have expertise in DB2 (relational database management) but it may not be as well versed in other types of database technology.

IBM intends to integrate DataMirror’s technology with its own product offerings, a move that will help extend IBM’s information-on-demand strategy, said Michael Curry, director of product strategy and management for IBM information platform and solutions.

Specifically, DataMirror’s heterogeneous real-time change data capture technology will be integrated with IBM’s Information Server.

And DataMirror’s 2,200 customers, he said, will give IBM “a new set of opportunities.”

The business will be integrated into IBM’s information and management software unit, with DataMirror’s Canadian location remaining the “centre of competency” for that type of information-on-demand technology, said Curry.

Among the benefits of this acquisition for DataMirror will be the advantage of IBM’s global reach, said Nigel Stokes, CEO and founder of DataMirror.

Jon Paisner, analyst with Boston, Mass.-based IT consultancy Yankee Group Research Inc., agreed that having IBM’s brand name and recognition gives DataMirror clout in the marketplace. “They may not have had the reach before, but now they absolutely have it.”

Karp said the merger “is hardly a marriage of equals”, however, agreed that DataMirror stands to benefit from the global reach it could not have otherwise quickly acquired on its own. “They get their feet on the street, whether it’s direct sales force feet on the street or partners.”

Current DataMirror customers, he said, should expect to see no change, except for perhaps the broad field support that IBM brings to the table. “[Customers will] find additional local support in areas where it wasn’t available before.”

The acquisition also gives IBM access to the mid-market – something it’s had difficulty doing and understanding, said Karp.

Curry doesn’t anticipate significant changes to IBM’s product portfolio, other than the acquisition having an “additive” result on offerings. “Over time, we will talk about what that roadmap will be.”

Paisner agreed that the move won’t change the portfolio dramatically. “With all of their acquisitions, IBM has been really trying to develop an off-the-shelf solution. So we expect to see the same thing here. The underlying technology from DataMirror will be integrated into the IBM suite.”

The main thing that DataMirror brings to the table, he added, is the ability to analyze data in real-time as changes occur.

According to Joel Martin, vice-president enterprise software research at Toronto, Ont.-based research firm IDC Canada, the acquisition boosts IBM’s ability to compete in this space and is part of an “unfolding trend” where companies are attempting to do the same.

“DataMirror fits well with what IBM is striving to do in that marketplace. It also fills a gap that IBM needed to address with acquisitions by Microsoft of ProClarity, SAP of OutlookSoft, and Oracle of Hyperion.”

It is a common trend not only in terms of acquisitions, but also through the introduction of new products from business intelligence vendors, said Paisner. “The rest of the industry as a whole is really moving towards this real-time availability and real-time analyzing of data.”

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