IBM announced Monday its intent to acquire data integration provider Ascential Software Corp. for about $1.1 billion, or $18.50 per share.
The acquisition, subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, adds to IBMs WebSphere Information Integrator product portfolio. That product enables users to manage and access disparate pieces of data from a centrally managed environment.
Ascential, of Westboro, Mass., brings to the table the ability to perform a number of key data integration functions, including data transformation, cleansing, profiling and high speed data placement—capabilities that are particularly useful as companies increasingly seek to unify customer data to implement newer technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) and business intelligence.
The idea in combining IBM and Ascentials software is to enable users to better integrate, structure and manage data, officials said.
"The acquisition of Ascential Software expands IBMs open information integration platform and strengthens our ability to help customers create an environment that delivers the data they need, in the right form, to the right location, and at the right time," said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBMs Software Group, in a statement. The WebSphere portfolio is part of the Software Groups offering.
Despite past criticisms that IBM has a broad portfolio of integration products that arent too well-integrated—the Software Group has made 21 acquisitions in the past four years—IBM officials expect little in the way of surprises when it comes to adding Ascential to the fold. The two companies have been partners for the past four years, with co-development and co-marketing plans in place.
"One thing we make sure of is a cultural fit for our organization and a shared vision," said Janet Perna, general manager of IBMs Information Management software division.
"With Ascential, we have a shared vision and a shared strategy. Weve worked with the Ascential team the last four years; we know we have shared values and a shared culture."
The companies have 550 joint customers.
Ascential has also acquired a number of companies over the past several years. In 2003, Ascential acquired Mercator Software Inc. for $106 million. Mercator had its roots in the EAI (enterprise application integration) market. During 2002, Ascential acquired data quality management software provider Vality Technology Inc. for $92 million. A year prior, it acquired Torrent Systems Inc. for $46 million. Torrent developed parallel processing infrastructure software for the development and execution of data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics applications.
Ascential also brings to the table 3,000 customers and partners across a number of vertical industries.
The deal is expected to close during the second quarter.
Once the acquisition is complete, IBM expects to establish Ascentials operations as a business unit with IBMs Information Management division. It also plans to use Ascentials software in different areas of its Software Group.