IBM to buy DWL

Big Blue is diving deeper into the CDI market, following its purchase of Ascential Software with the acquisition of DWL.

IBM plunged deeper into the data integration market today, announcing plans to acquire DWL Inc., a provider of customer data integration (CDI) software, for an undisclosed sum.

Today's announcement comes five months after Big Blue initially bought its way into the data quality market, with the purchase of Ascential Software Corp. for $1.1 billion.

DWL, a privately held company with headquarters in Atlanta and Toronto, adds an important data integration tool to IBM's arsenal. With IBM's financial wherewithal and the increasing importance of data quality and data integration to enterprise companies, a deal like this was inevitable, said Robert Lerner, analyst with Sterling, Va.-based Current Analysis.

"This is a major volley in the market," Lerner said. "I think it's a good fit in terms of the Ascential purchase. Ascential has the data quality tool, DWL has the CDI solution. What is critical to CDI are data quality tools. It's fine if you create these data hubs, but if you populate it with incorrect data, it won't deliver on the value it should."

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The purchase is subject to regulatory approval, and IBM expects the deal to close later this year. DWL's technology will complement IBM's existing product information management software and its data integration software, according to IBM.

"The ability to cut through complexity and provide an accurate view of the customer is one of the most important aspects of information management today," Janet Perna, general manager of information management at IBM, said in a statement. "We are providing an integrated middleware infrastructure that manages information and aligns that information in real time with business processes."

Data quality and CDI are increasingly grabbing the attention of enterprise businesses. Just last month, the market got a little smaller when Dublin-based Similarity Systems  purchased Evoke Software Corp., of Austin, Texas.

Data integration represents a significant growth market, according to several research firms. CDI  is expected to take off with a typical Global 2000 company expected to spend more than $1.2 million on CDI in the next year, according to the CDI Institute in San Francisco. Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC projects that worldwide data integration spending will rise from $9.3 billion in 2003 to $13.6 billion in 2008.

"This is becoming a hotter and hotter topic if you want a master view of customers, product data or operational data," Lerner said. "IBM is going to be a much stronger force in this market. You need a single view of customers in terms of regulatory compliance, and IBM wants to make a major play there."

Existing DWL customers should have little to worry about with this purchase, Lerner added. They are now being served by a vendor with long-term stability and finances.

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