IBM: Ascential Buy Will Fill Hole in Information Integration

Q&A: IBM's Janet Perna says the Ascential purchase will plug the hole in Big Blue's ETL capabilities.

As onStrategies analyst Tony Baer puts it, IBMs announcement to buy Ascential Software Corp. for $1.1 billion was clear in hindsight. It means that IBM gets a profitable company plus product that fills a "clear gap," Baer wrote in a recent analysts note. "… Its a company with which theyre quite familiar, having accrued over four years in a close relationship that has generated significant joint sales. Were rarely this bullish on a deal, but this one makes sense."

Ascential is the latest in a string of investments IBM has made in information integration over the course of a numbers of years. Database Editor Lisa Vaas recently caught up with Janet Perna, general manager of data management solutions for the IBM Software Group, to chat about the move.

What gap in IBMs approach to information integration does this fill?

Our platform has been pretty much focused on enterprise information integration. If you look at the whole area, theres enterprise application integration, with WebSphere; enterprise information integration, which is around data federation and aggregation of information; and theres ETL (extract, transform, load).

The areas where weve been strong in are EAI and EII with Information Integrator. In fact, weve enhanced it with acquisitions like Venetica [Corp.] to handle unstructured information.

In addition to the SQL interface into all these data sources, in November we offered OmniFind, [Information Integrator technology used to open direct search interfaces from IBM to partners and customers, leading toward the creation of new applications capable of gleaning information and real-time analysis more quickly across systems and documents].

What IBM did not have was high-volume, scalable ETL capabilities. This is about movement of information. Its about data placement as well as cleansing of information and transformation of information. This is where weve been partnering with Ascential for the last four years in providing this capability. So with this announcement, were taking this partnership one step further and putting it under the IBM umbrella here for information integration.

Weve been doing a lot of technical work to make sure their info integrates with ours. This is a super fit for us. It provides us with the most comprehensive platform in the industry for being able to integrate information.

Its been said that Ascential has a one-size-fits-all model that may meet the needs of an industry whose problems are well-defined and static, but not one wherein data quality is growing ever more complex and wherein customers need data quality in real time. Whats your take on that?

Weve done extensive due diligence around the technologies that are available in this area in terms of transformation, cleansing and real-time ETL. We see Ascential as having the broadest, the leading technology in transformation quality as well as high-speed ETL. They by far have the leading platform for providing these capabilities.

Next Page: Not just for mainframe data movement.