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IBM leaps into product content management

Big Blue is newest entrant in growing market for tools that let companies manage data about their products.

IBM on Monday detailed its plans to push into the emerging market for product information management and released a rebranded version of a product it gained through an acquisition earlier this year.

The company said WebSphere Product Center version 5, based on a product IBM aquired with its purchase of Trigo Technologies, will form the basis for Big Blue's tools for cataloging and tracking a company's products. The software is used to create a single repository of product data and related information, such as marketing material, and disseminate it to partners and employees.

Large corporations invested in the Trigo software to streamline the flow of information in their supply chains. For example, a manufacturer and retailer could share product information to improve sales during a promotion. IBM said product information management is also an important component for initiatives around radio frequency identification, or RFID, and data synchronization, where trading partners exchange product information electronically.

With the update, IBM has enhanced the former Trigo product to handle more large-scale computing workloads through clustering, and it has improved the end-user data management tool to work with different languages. The product costs $300,000 per processor.

IBM also said it intends to further integrate its existing middleware software products with its product information management application.

In the fourth quarter, IBM will package its e-commerce server, WebSphere Commerce, with WebSphere Product Center, said Dan Druker, the company's director of product information management solutions. IBM is also building closer technical ties between its WebSphere Product Center and the company's portal software so that businesses can share product information with employees and partners over the Web.

In related news, SAP last week purchased a product content management company called A2i as part of its plans to fill out its data management capabilities. SAP said the acquired product catalog tools will be built into its NetWeaver infrastructure software for sharing information between business applications.