IBM buys data management firm Alphablox

Big Blue makes its fifth acquisition of a data management software firm, strengthening its position in the business intelligence market.

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IBM said Wednesday it would buy privately held software company Alphablox Corp., which helps companies perform financial analysis of their operations.

Alphablox technology will be embedded into IBM's DB2, Websphere, Rational and Lotus Workplace middleware.

This is IBM's fifth acquisition in the past three years aimed at strengthening its data management offerings. It is the software group's 16th acquisition since 2001.

In December, IBM purchased Green Pasture Software Inc. , a privately owned provider of document management software based in Corvallis, Ore. In April it purchased data center management software firm Candle Corp.

The move further strengthens IBM's position in the business intelligence market, a key strategic priority for its data management efforts and the company's on-demand computing initiatives.

According to IDC, the market opportunity for business intelligence software is worth more than $7 billion worldwide and is expected to double by 2006.

IBM will fold the Mountain View, Calif.-based Alphablox into its information management software unit. The deal is expected to close later this month.

Alphablox software enables users to embed analytics -- such as customer buying trends -- into existing business processes, and makes information available for easy, logical viewing.

By acquiring Alphablox technology, IBM will be able to fill a gap in its data management offerings – a front-end dashboard.

"Now, developers can build these front-end capabilities that enable users to see this information through the web browser," said IBM spokesperson Lori Bosio.

For example, a brand manager can view up-to-the-minute sales figures for each region or be alerted to dips in inventory and make business changes based on these results on the fly.

Alphablox software can work with both IBM and non-IBM data sources, including Oracle, Microsoft and Sybase, enabling organizations to build on their existing IT infrastructure.

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