IBM Acquires Think Dynamics To Boost On-Demand Capabilities

Think Dynamics makes Think Control, an application suite that automatically reallocates computing resources such as servers, middleware, applications, storage systems and network interfaces to meet business demands.

"It's what we call policy-based dynamic provisioning," said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of IBM's Tivoli Software unit, in a conference call. "And what we mean by that is the ability for what's going on in the business environment to dictate what resources I need, where I need them and when I need them, such that my IT infrastructure really is on-demand to the business."

Using such automated technology, customers can cut costs and manage their IT infrastructure with fewer staff, LeBlanc said.

The acquisition closely follows Tivoli's introduction last month of a slew of new products that added automated management capabilities to its network management lineup. Those offerings included Tivoli Autonomic Monitoring Engine, software that uses preconfigured or customized rules to automatically detect and cure server problems.

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The Think Dynamics deal and the new Tivoli products support IBM's plan to provide utility-based computing, a vision that IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano outlined last November. Yet several IBM competitors also have entered the on-demand computing fray, including Computer Associates International, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Veritas Software.

Earlier this month, for example, HP launched its Adaptive Enterprise strategy, which includes new automated capabilities within the vendor's OpenView network management software family and new offerings from its professional services group. CA launched its on-demand computing strategy last month at NetWorld Interop and introduced six new Unicenter network management applications to support it, including an option for reallocating capacity.

Think Dynamics, a privately held firm, will be integrated into IBM's software group and sold under the Tivoli brand name, but the technology will also be used in IBM's server and outsourcing businesses, LeBlanc said. Because Think Dynamics' technology is based on open standards such as J2EE and Open Grid Services Architecture, LeBlanc said he expects the integration into IBM products to go quickly.

With the acquisition, IBM can get on-demand computing solutions into solution providers' hands faster, said Mike Twomey, vice president of channel and business development at IBM Tivoli, in an interview. IBM is scheduled to brief U.S. partners on the acquired products during a Webcast tomorrow, he said.

Think Dynamics was in the midst of developing a channel program and had already signed its first partner, integration and outsourcing firm Computer Sciences Corp., Twomey said. IBM is already in talks to continue the partnership with CSC, he added.

So far, IBM hasn't established a training schedule for solution providers on the new technology because the company is about four months away from delivering product, Twomey said.

All of Think Dynamics' 36 employees will transfer to IBM except CEO Alan McMillan, who said during the conference call on the deal that he planned to stay on to support the transition.

IBM didn't disclose the financial terms of the deal. Shares of IBM stock traded at $88.85 as of Wednesday afternoon, down $1.33.