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IBM Unifies Information Management Software In New Platform

IBM on Monday took the wraps off its new Information Server platform, the linchpin of the company's effort to catalyze a new information integration field that IBM views as the next breakthrough in managing business data.

Unveiled at IBM's inaugural Information on Demand conference in Anaheim, Calif., Information Server is IBM's years-in-the-making effort to unite a variety of data aggregation products into one platform. The platform brings together products IBM built internally with technologies it picked up through acquisitions, including Ascential, CrossAccess, Ventica and Unicorn Solutions.

"We think this will establish a whole new category," said Tom Inman, IBM's vice president of information management strategy and marketing. "There are niche players in the market that do this sort of thing, but no one has the breadth and depth that IBM does to bring it all together."

Scheduled to begin shipping next month, Information Server includes tools for discovering, cleansing, distributing and analyzing corporate data from an assortment of sources. Its modules include WebSphere DataStage, QualityStage, Replication Server, Metadata Server and Data Event Publisher, among others. The product also will bundle DB2 and the WebSphere Application Server.

"The idea here is to really simplify," Inman said. "[All of the modules] are built on a common architecture so that the components are very seamless. This is a brand-new architecture, not a marketing bundle."

IBM has been investing heavily in technology to help large organizations comb through their masses of structured and unstructured data, and IBM's recent "Viper" DB2 release was a major initiative that set the stage for the Information Server platform.

IBM plans to sell Information Server (prices start at $100,000 for an entry-level configuration) both directly and through the channel. More than two dozen partners announced plans to integrate their software with the new platform, including Cognos, Hyperion, MicroStrategy and iWay Software, and global solution providers like Capgemini said they will offer services around it.

IBM executives said they see similarities between the new Information Server and another middleware product that blossomed from a niche offering to an industry standard: the application server.

"We can't be considered leaders unless others follow," said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of IBM's information management group. "Customers will decide what they want to see in the platform. It will be a journey. ... This is the starting point."

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