IBM to pick up data analytics firm

Alphablox will be the fifth company company Big Blue has bought to bolster its DB2 data management products.

Continuing its acquisitive ways, IBM on Wednesday announced plans to buy privately held Alphablox, a maker of analytical software with about 60 employees.

Big Blue intends to incorporate the Alphablox software into its existing business intelligence tools, a line of products for analyzing corporate data. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1996, Mountain View, Calif.-based Alphablox sells software for gathering data from business applications that help managers visualize the collected information. The software, for example, is designed to give a manager up-to-the-minute customer sales data and create a visual "dashboard" for tracking specific metrics, such as the size of transactions.

The purchase of Alphablox, which is expected to be completed this month, represents the 16th acquisition by IBM's software division since 2001 and is the fifth buy meant to bolster IBM's DB2-branded . IBM has singled out business intelligence as one of its most promising areas for software sales this year.

Analysts say that sales of business intelligence and data management products represent a relatively healthy area of corporate technology spending. Businesses are seeking tools to comply with financial reporting regulations and applications that provide better visibility into a company's operations.

The Alphablox software will be incorporated into various IBM products, including IBM's DB2 data warehousing software and its WebSphere Business Integration Monitor, which is designed to track the progress of a multistep business process. Alphablox is an IBM partner and its software is already designed to work IBM's infrastructure software.

Alphablox's CEO is Joe Guglielmi, a former Motorola executive who also worked at Taligent, a largely unsuccessful joint venture between IBM, Apple and Hewlett-Packard. Current employees will be offered continued employment at IBM, a transition that will be assisted by Guglielmi, according to an IBM representative.

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