IBM boosts on-demand offerings with Toronto firm buy

In a bid to bolster its on-demand offerings, IBM Corp. announced on Wednesday it has acquired Toronto software firm Think Dynamics Inc. and its suite of products that allows users to automate management of data centre processes.

The ThinkControl suite allows what IBM calls orchestrated provisioning for three specific tasks: infrastructure provisioning, capacity management and service level management. This, according to IBM, provides network managers with feedback on the IT environment in real-time, checks status of systems against business policies and makes changes to the IT environment automatically.

ThinkControl will be managed under Big Blue’s Tivoli group and IBM will be selling it under a yet-to-be-determined brand name and will integrate its automated provisioning capabilities not only into its software, but also into its servers and outsourcing offerings.

“This is a very important technology to move forward the execution of our on-demand initiative,” said Irving Wladawsky-Berger, general manager IBM’s of e-Business On-Demand, in Somers, N.Y.

IBM announced its e-Business On Demand initiative six months ago and will commit about US$10 billion to its plan to transform itself and its customers into on-demand businesses.

Robert LeBlanc, general manager for IBM Tivoli in Dallas, said the goal of this acquisition is to provide the means for customers to provision their IT infrastructures automatically and relate it back to their business needs.

“It’s what we call policy-based dynamic provisioning and what we mean by that is the ability for what’s going on in the business environment to dictate what resources I need, where I need them, and when I need them,” he said.

In the past customers would have to over-provision their IT environments to prepare for their biggest surge of network activity. This could often call for a “rip and replace” where users would have to tear out equipment and purchase and install new gear.

For example, if a bank wanted to run a promotion, it would need to prepare months in advance for the potential surge of traffic on its Web site. The onus would be on the IT people to prepare technology such as servers and middleware to handle this increase in traffic, and they would have to do it in accordance with IT policy.

With on-demand, and Think Dynamic’s think control suite, this process would be automated. It would configure the IT infrastructure in accordance with IT policies leaving network managers free to take care of other issues, and lessen the need for the removal and installation of new equipment to accommodate traffic on the network.

Think Dynamic’s ThinkControl supports open standards for Web Services, J2EE, and the Open Grid Services Architecture (OSGA). LeBlanc said this support would provide users with the ability to automatically provision in heterogeneous environments.

In addition, all of Think Dynamic’s staff, with the exception of CEO Alan McMillan, will be migrating to IBM’s research and development centre in Toronto. McMillan will, however, be staying on during the transition period.

These 100 employees will work with researchers who are performing development on DB2, in data management and on WebSphere.

“There will be complementary activities across those teams,” said Hershell Harris, director of the IBM Toronto Lab. “From those two team’s perspectives it gives tremendous flexibility as to the type of work they can do, not just data management and WebSphere but now the on-demand initiative through automated provisioning.”

In addition, Harris said this acquisition will also create more jobs for other skilled developers.

IBM is headquartered in White Plains, N.Y. IBM Canada Ltd. is based in Markham, Ont. For more information visit

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