IBM enters master data management market

LAS VEGAS — IBM’s Information on Demand kicked off Monday with a keynote address from general manager of information management software Ambuj Goyal that unveiled a handful of new products that continues the company’s aggressive push into the data management sphere.

Jim Kobielus, principal analyst with Alexandria, Virginia-based research firm Current Analysis, said, “IBM has been firing on all barrels. You can see here their plans to swell out to establish all segments of information-on-demand performance,” citing their range of products, including data integration, data warehousing, and database management tools.

Now, IBM can add a comprehensive master data management (MDM) solution to the mix. Building off of its acquisition of Canadian MDM company DWL’s customer data integration program (which was then rebranded as IBM WebSphere Customer Centre), the IBM MDM Server was announced this week. Executives said its flexible nature allows the product to support any type of data entity, from customer to products to accounts. “It needs to do this because there are companies out there (including Oracle and SAP, and pure-play vendors Siperion and Initiate Systems) that already have an integrated portfolio,” said Kobielus.

This announcement is key, he said, as companies are clamouring more and more for MDM, as the customer data integration components are a natural fit with their existing investments, such as their data warehouses. It will be available in early 2008.

Information Server improvements include enhanced data federation capabilities that will enable improved data warehousing in a decentralized deployment model, said Kobielus.

The improvements are, he said, also a clever play for both an installed base and the SMB market. The program is now compatible with the System z mainframe, which captures that large segment (and, he said, is something those users have been after for awhile), while a new component called Fast Track will aid smaller businesses in speeding up their set-up and deployment. (The recently announced Information Server blade that was released today will also gain a few new SMB fans, said Kobielus.)

This could prove an important blow for IBM’s information management fight, as, said Joel Martin, IDC Canada’s vice-president of enterprise applications, Microsoft has the upper hand in the SMB space when it comes to information management.

Other Information Server improvements include real-time connectivity with SAP products and desktop metadata search features, along with the benefits reaped from the recent DataMirror acquisition, which includes change data capture, and data replication, integration, cleaning, and analysis.

The newest iteration of DB2 Warehouse 9 was announced as well. DB2 Warehouse 9.5 has boosted workload management features that benefit from the newly unveiled DB2 9.5 Viper 2 data server.

This release is complemented by a new offering that moves into a relatively uncharted area for IBM–the free download. At the end of the month, Data Studio will be available on IBM’s Web site as a free download. This Web-based data management program is a development hub that developers and database administrators can work through via plug-in tools from other vendors.

“This is a very important toolset for those trying to get their arms around common data policies to govern, integrate, cleanse, and manage all types of data, both structured and unstructured,” said Kobielus. He believes that IBM has gone the downloadable route to virally worm its way into becoming the data management standard.

Also announced was IBM Content Management 8.4, a content and document management software suite that aims to control unstructured data from different parts of the enterprise.

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