IBM Tackles Services-Oriented Information Management

IBM adds muscle to its Middleware portfolio with the unveiling of master data management software that the company claims will ease information sharing across enterprises.

IBM is laying down the groundwork in its Information Management software portfolio to allow customers to take advantage of acutely integrated information as a service within SOAs (service oriented architectures).

IBM officials say this will lead to improved decision-making due to more reliable data accuracy and a common format to leverage and share relevant information, reducing business process complexity.

At its Information Integration Live user event in Las Vegas on Monday, IBM spruced up by announcing its new Master Data Management product set.

Products within that offering that were unveiled on Monday, include IBM WebSphere Customer Center v.6.0, IBM WebSphere Product Center and IBM WebSphere Metadata Server.

In addition, general availability of IBMs Information Integrator—which had been in beta format—was announced.

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IBMs new master data management software eases information sharing between groups and across enterprises by enabling a metadata services infrastructure by pinpointing precisely where and when information is created, who holds access to that data, where its being sent, and what is its general relevance to other pieces of information, said Ambuj Goyal, general manager, IBM Information Management, for Armonk, NY-based IBM.

"Information in the enterprise has typically been tied to repositories, but there are lines of businesses like call centers and procurement not stored in the repository. If you could just get the right information to the right people at the right time, that would greatly improve decision-making," said Goyal, who took over the reins of Information Management from former GM Janet Perna following her decision to retire in July.

Added Goyal: "In the past, to do this you would have to use a dizzying amount of technical resources to integrate or move data from one place to another.

"[IBM] will expand the usage of information in the enterprise by focusing on information as a service from repositories to be consumed elsewhere….basically you will see all our capabilities with data content integration moving to the services oriented world."

Currently available, IBM Customer Center v.6 helps companies gain a centralized view of their customers and relationships they have with a specific business.

The new software is made up of technology absorbed by IBM through its acquisition of customer data hub maker DWL, Inc. in August.

Stephen Kessler, vice-president of the IT department at New York City-based Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., was a customer of DWL, and as a result of IBMs purchase of the company, now finds himself a user of WebSphere Customer Center v.6.

Using the product to provide MetLifes party management platform, Kessler said he is curious to see how IBM folds different components of its master data management strategy under one umbrella.

"Were waiting to see how the synergies come together. We have a fairly extensive implementation of the DWL customer product.

"What this lets us do is start transforming the end-to-end process with real-time transactions that are on a customer-centric basis for all those types of business functions we do," said Kessler.

"When we bring in a new piece of customer information, were automatically hooking that up to relationships customers already have with us."

Kessler said the product is giving his organization a "rich source" of operational information that will enable MetLife to streamline processes to boost efficiency in areas such as CRM (customer relationship management) and data warehousing.

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"The fact that IBM is now embracing this and is looking to marry other segments besides (DWL technology) to Master Data Management looks like its very promising going forward. But the proof will be in the execution," said Kessler.

Also currently available, IBM WebSphere Product Center enables organizations to increase productivity through the construction and management of a detailed repository featuring product information.

Customers using the software tool can update and edit product information at will using portals to boost workload management, augment productivity and perform troubleshooting tasks.

For its part, IBM WebSphere Metadata Server offers metadata management as a service to products featured within IBM WebSphere Information Integration platform.

Currently in beta form, the "Project Hawk" project software—which came by IBMs way via its acquisition of Ascential Software earlier this year—will be introduced along with the next version of IBM WebSphere DataStage and other Information Integration products in Spring 2006.

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