IBM-ISS Deal Shows Rise of Information Stewardship

As the VARBusiness 2006 Market Insight report shows, providing the best customer service tools is the principal concern of most companies these days; ensuring that these tools provide as secure an environment as possible also is a priority.

According to our survey of more than 600 end-user companies to gauge their spending priorities for the coming year, respondents from both midmarket (39.9 percent) and enterprise companies (41.2 percent) ranked customer service as their top budgetary allocation this year. Moreover, 34.9 percent of midmarket companies and 43.5 percent of enterprise organizations said building and maintaining up-to-date security and privacy policies was the main driver for such spending.

These numbers are reflective of IBM's purchase of ISS for $1.3 billion. According to Nemertes Research, the deal "highlights the increasingly high profile of information stewardship in general, and information protection in particular."

Although not historically a security company, IBM -- like Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and EMC -- realized the necessity of ramping up its security presence across all product lines. ISS' solutions will enhance IBM's existing information management and security technologies, and perhaps more important, it will bolster IBM's managed security services offerings. Nemertes analysts say a recent survey it conducted found 71 percent of enterprises consider securing and protecting access to their corporate data "vitally important," and 87 percent say information stewardship equally vital.

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As Nemertes defines it, information stewardship includes information protection, data-quality management (DQM), compliance, business continuance and information life-ycle management (ILM). IBM has made numerous recent acquisitions in these areas, including MicroMuse, Ascential and FileNet, along with its own ongoing internal development.

"At its core, the IBM-ISS deal is about protecting data," says Sarah Gates, Sun's vice president of identity management and Web services.

This deal and others, including EMC's purchase of RSA Security and the Symantec/Veritas merger, she says, show how IT vendors are realizing the importance of serving their customers and demonstrating that they can do this in the most secure way possible.

"People think cars have brakes so you can stop, but they have brakes so you can go fast," Gates says. "We used to have security so you could lock things down, but now we have security so companies can open things up and move more things online in a way that's appropriate for them."

Read more articles based on findings from the VARBusiness Market Insight Report.