Its a Green Pasture for IBM

IBM's purchase of Green Pasture fills gap in document management offerings.

IBMs acquisition of document management software vendor Green Pasture Software Inc. last month could pay big dividends for IBM in the months ahead.

Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the acquisition adds a pure-play document management player to IBMs ECM (enterprise content management) portfolio.

"It fills a pretty significant gap they had in document management," said Andrew Warzecha, an analyst for Meta Group Inc., in Chicago.

Warzecha said Domino.doc, IBMs previous document management offering, had only simple document management capabilities such as check-in and checkout, not more advanced capabilities that show relationships among content objects in documents.

Green Pasture is the fourth acquisition for IBMs DB2 software group since November 2002. Green Pasture is a part of IBMs ECM software business. Its software for editing, managing and collaborating on multiple documents simultaneously will be sold by IBM, which is selling the Green Pasture technology as IBM DB2 Document Manager.

The software is used to manage relationships among document types, such as spreadsheets, multimedia files and CAD references.

"We didnt have capabilities for compound document management, where the work process is the document," said Brett MacIntyre, vice president of ECM for IBM, in Somers, N.Y. "This acquisition gives us that."

MacIntyre said the technology is particularly useful for the creation of documents such as technical manuals and annual reports and is used mostly in government, financial services, pharmaceutical, chemical and manufacturing vertical markets.

IBM has partnered with Green Pasture for the past two years, according to MacIntyre.

Warzecha said Green Pasture has only about 85 customers, but most of them are large organizations with thousands of users. Most also are customers of FileNet Corp.s ECM offerings, presenting IBM with an opportunity for a competitive take-away as well as a better competitive offering for large enterprise accounts.

"Theyll have an opportunity to displace FileNet in a lot of big accounts," said Warzecha. "This acquisition was a very prudent one for IBM."

David Holland, vice president and CIO of Genesys Health System, in Flint, Mich., said being able to get many applications from the same vendor is an important goal for his organization, which uses IBMs DB2 Content Manager now.

"One of the issues CIOs run up against is having hardware, databases, applications and tools from different vendors and having to make it all work together," said Holland. "It certainly makes sense to be able to buy the whole set from one person.

"Its not only difficult technically to get a number of vendors products to work together, theres a lot of value in moving to less vendors and dealing with one team of people," he said. "It makes a lot of sense."

IBM has added other technology pieces to its DB2 Information Management division in the past through acquisition, including Aptrix, formerly Presence Online Pty Ltd., for Web content management, in June 2003 and Tarian Software Corp., for records management, in November 2002. IBM also purchased CrossAccess Corp., for information integration, in October 2003.

MacIntyre said IBM has the most complete ECM technology stack on the market but will make more acquisitions and develop new products based on customer demand.

Metas Warzecha said that he expects IBM to stand pat for the time being and work with what it has purchased to date. "Over the next 12 to 18 months, I think youll see them integrate stuff together and build out vertical solutions with their Business Consulting Group," he said.