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Trigo buy fattens IBM's middleware

IBM's purchase of product information management (PIM) company Trigo Technologies Inc. earlier this month fills a gap in Big Blue's ever-expanding middleware portfolio. More important, IBM's obvious commitment to UCCnet and RFID means better solutions for thousands of iSeries shops wading through UCCnet FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). The Trigo product will be integrated as middleware alongside WebSphere, giving IBM the goods to provide the whole package. Paraic Sweeney, vice president of product information management for IBM's software group, talked exclusively with about the company's most recent acquisition.

As a company, you have fairly close ties with SAP. Does this compete with the new offering from SAP -- Master Data Management (MDM)?
We have a multidimensional relationship with SAP. IBM is the largest implementer of SAP, from a service perspective. We also supply the infrastructure for customers running SAP apps. DB2, for example, is often used in running SAP. Mainframes are used to deploy those apps. In fact, we just announced interoperability between IBM WebSphere Business Integration and SAP's integration server with is NetWeaver XI. Our basic philosophy is customers have very diverse environments, and customers have a requirement that new placements of middleware work with their current applications. And we support that through the implementation of standards. That's one of the key advantages of our middleware. It doesn't require anyone to rip and replace their current infrastructure. How would you compare the purchase of Trigo with that of other major acquisitions, such as Rational and Tivoli?
Clearly, all of the acquisitions we've made over the last few years have been in recognizing a market need that spans industries and companies. When identifying a portfolio gap, there's a classic build-versus-buy decision to be made. If there is an opportunity there, from a customer perspective we ask 'Do we have a better chance of addressing that by moving quickly into that space by acquiring instead of building?' It fits within the model in which we've applied all our acquisitions, which is to add product capability to the portfolio. This is, however, a much smaller acquisition than Rational or Tivoli, simply because the company is much smaller. What can you offer in terms of UCCnet and RFID solutions?
Many retailers and manufacturers are using UCCnet as the mechanism to transfer product information to their distributors and retailers. Everyone along that chain needs to manage that information because they may have many systems or product lines, so they need to aggregate that information before sending it to UCCnet. [By integrating our products with Trigo products] we're able to make that transfer of information faster and more efficient, as well as more accurate --more automated. In the absence of the technology, you see a combination of one manufacturer sending [product information] by fax, another by Excel spreadsheet, phone. ... It's a very manual, error-prone process without the automation, and that's where we see the opportunity.
IBM to buy Trigo, expand data sync offerings
Will it help strengthen your supply chain offerings?
Trigo products will help us deliver a more complete solution to our customers. Because its products are built in a Java standards environment and exploit our middleware products, such as WebSphere and DB2, Trigo complements our entire portfolio. For example, it can use DB2 Content Manger to manage rich media (such as video clips, photography, artwork, etc.) that can be used to illustrate a product. In general, it brings the capability to actually manage the attribute information that describes a product or service and delivers it ready to use in a wide range of applications. That's what our middleware was lacking.
We're able to make that transfer of information faster and more efficient, as well as more accurate --more automated.
Paraic Sweeney
vice president of product information management IBM
What does Trigo bring to the table?
Paraic Sweeney, IBM
Over the last five years, we've been expanding the range of the infrastructure capabilities that we offer in our middleware platform, particularly in terms of integration. We're constantly looking at the business issues our customers face, and we address how our products can help bring solutions to our customers. We saw an uptick in demand for data synchronization solutions, and Trigo was the leader in this area. Bringing in Trigo expands what we can offer in this area.

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