IBM Corp. is looking to better meet the needs of wireless service providers with its planned purchase of network performance monitoring and service management software vendor Vallent Corp.

IBM announced Tuesday its intention to purchase privately held Vallent for an undisclosed sum. The vendor hopes to close the deal, subject to regulatory approval, in the first quarter of calendar 2007. At that point, IBM will fold Vallent into its Tivoli Software systems management business unit.

Vallent’s 200-plus customers includes Bharti Airtel Ltd. in India, Brasil Telecom, China Mobile Communications Corp. and Cingular Wireless LLC as well as mobile equipment providers like Alcatel SA, Lucent Technologies Inc. and Motorola Inc. The company with headquarters in Bellevue, Washington, employs over 400 staff.

IBM plans to add Vallent’s software to the Netcool products it gained through the US$865 million acquisition of network management software vendor Micromuse, which closed in February. Bringing the offerings together will better position IBM to provide software to help mobile service providers manage their increasingly complex networks as they converge fixed-line and mobile infrastructure.

IBM said there’s minimal product overlap between Vallent’s products and its existing Tivoli software. The vendor is particularly interested in Vallent’s abilities to manage wireless radio access networks, which it expects to mesh well with Netcool’s management of wireless infrastructure and Internet Protocol-based services.