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IBM steps up information management efforts

Big Blue plans additional funding and new products to help companies better manage and integrate data.

IBM on Wednesday unveiled plans for a pair of new products aimed at helping companies better manage and integrate data, and pledged additional funds for further advancement of such technologies.

As information integration and records management have become increasingly important to businesses, IBM has sought to grow its presence in the market for software that assimilates data across different kinds of computer storage and enterprise software systems.

"Our strategy is to provide a complete information infrastructure to customers that allows them to integrate, analyze and more efficiently manage all their information assets, whether or not those assets are on an IBM platform," said Nelson Mattos, vice president of IBM's information management division. "That's what customers are asking us for."

Matos said that organizations faced with rapidly increasing volumes of data are still struggling to organize it in ways that allow them to easily access information spread across multiple and often disparate systems.

"Most companies in this market are focused on either the database aspect or on content repositories," he said. "We not only have those, but also the integration platforms and analytical applications needed on top of those technologies."

Big Blue also said it has completed its $1.1 billion acquisition of Ascential Software. The deal, announced in March, was meant to bolster IBM's push into the data management market. Ascential is the eighth company purchased by IBM in the information management arena since 2001.

The first of the products announced by IBM is an integration technology garnered through the company's buyout of Ascential. The technology will be added to Big Blue's WebSphere Data Integration Suite when the next version of that package, code-named Hawk, is released later this year. The integration tools are expected to debut in beta form during the second quarter of 2005. IBM said the tools will provide a centralized system for information analysis, data cleansing, data transformation and metadata management.

The updated version of the package also will introduce a number of tools for IT workers who administer and develop such data management applications, the company said.

IBM also introduced on Wednesday a product called Federated Records Management software, a package that aims to help companies centralize record-keeping policies for all of their content. Using the software, records can be automatically tracked and classified using almost any database application, the company said.

The package aims to help companies with their supervision of compliance issues, while reducing costs. Among the content management systems the product will work with are FileNet, EMC Documentum, OpenText and IBM's own DB2 Content Manager.

IBM also announced that it has expanded its worldwide research and development efforts for data integration and management software. The company unveiled plans to expand its Boca Raton, Fla., Secunderaband, India, and Middlesex, England, research and development centers. It will also increase research operations at Ascential's former headquarters, located in Westboro, Mass.