IBM Buys Vendor for XML Forms

Seeks Pureedge's open standards.

IBM is planning to add open-standards electronic forms capabilities across its messaging and collaboration software portfolio by buying PureEdge Solutions Inc.

The acquired XML forms technology is expected to be complementary to existing IBM and partner e-forms offerings. Terms of the deal, expected to close at the end of last week, were not disclosed.

PureEdges XML forms technology will be rebranded as IBM technologies this year and integrated into IBM messaging and collaboration technologies such as Workplace, WebSphere Portal and Content Management Server starting next year. The technology will be interoperable with IBMs flagship Lotus Domino platform but will not replace existing e-forms technology in Domino, said IBM officials.

The PureEdge XML-based technology will give users greater flexibility in exchanging forms between systems, said Ambuj Goyal, general manager for Workplace, Portal and Collaboration at IBM. "Were doing the acquisition to capture information across all product lines, not only Workplace, but Domino, [Portal], WebSphere and Content Manager," said Goyal in Cambridge, Mass.

IBM officials said the company is buying PureEdge, a partner based in Victoria, British Columbia, to promote the creation of open-standards-based e-forms as well as to improve customers business processes, evolve IBMs software portfolio and create deep industry solutions, particularly in areas such as government, banking, insurance and health care.

Goyal said e-forms, the front end to business processes, are a key "currency for information exchange."

"[PureEdge] has always been focused on an open-standards-based currency of exchange," Goyal said. "Our competitors are proprietary; those vendors are trying to control the currency of exchange."

Ian Altman, president of ITM Associates Inc., one of IBMs main partners in the e-forms space, said that XML forms have limitations and that most customers will need a combination of e-forms offerings.

"IBM recognizes, as do most of their customers, that PureEdge in and of itself is not a total solution for most shops; for most customers, thats just a piece," said Altman in Rockville, Md.

"If someone has existing forms that theyre looking to convert into electronic forms, our application tends to have a significant competitive advantage. If youre building forms from scratch, they have a nice architecture," Altman said.