Ardent Buys Warehouse Vendor Prism Solutions

Another data warehousing pioneer has joined the ranks of the acquired. Ardent Software Inc. (www.ardentsoftware.com) is buying Prism Solutions Inc. (www.prismsolutions.com) in a deal valued at $42 million.

Picking up Prism, assuming the deal passes shareholder and government hurdles and closes as expected in mid-January or February, triples Ardent’s data warehousing customer rolls and quadruples its data warehousing revenues.

Ardent’s data warehousing unit, centered on its DataStage transformation engine, accounted for about $17 million of the company’s $118 million in 1998 revenues. The warehousing business unit contributes about 200 customers to Ardent’s 50,000 total. Prism projects $55 million for 1998 revenue and has 290 employees and 400 customers for its data migration technology and consulting services.

The remaining $100 million of Ardent’s revenue is tied to its UniVerse and UniData RDBMS, which are embedded in many packaged business applications, and its O2 Object DBMS.

In addition to the basic financials, Ardent also will benefit from Prism’s status and expertise as a data warehousing leader, much as Informix Corp. did with the recent acquisition of data warehousing pioneer Red Brick Systems Inc.

Prism, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., escapes an economic tailspin. Its stock value has dropped from about $35 shortly after going public in 1996 to the $2 it has been trading for recently on the Nasdaq. Prism president and CEO Warren Weiss’ official statement on the deal reflected the weight of the financial considerations by emphasizing "Ardent's track record of strong financial performance."

Prism’s products focused on mainframe connectivity and code generation, two components necessary for creating heavy duty data warehouses from legacy systems. More recently, the company announced offerings for extraction-migration from SAP AG’s ERP systems and acquired a data quality company. Ardent lists its data warehousing strengths as meta data management, native RDBMS support, and its transformation engine.

Jeff Boehm, Ardent’s director of product management for data warehousing, says the synergy between the two companies will position Ardent to compete effectively against other vendors in the space, including Evolutionary Technologies Inc., Carleton, Informatica Corp., Sagent Technology Inc. and Platinum Technology Inc.

"I think it’s a good deal for Ardent, it puts them on the map," says Wayne Eckerson, vice president of technology services at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI, www.dw-institute.com). "This Prism deal helps them become more of an enterprise player than being in the data mart space, and it gives them a lot of consultants. The hard part of data marts is not the technology, it’s the process. Consultants are a good way to shorten your sales cycle."

Plans call for marketing the offerings together through mid-1999 and going ahead with scheduled upgrades in March to both companies’ product lines -- Ardent’s DataStage and Prism’s Executive Suite. During the subsequent 12-month period, each product line will be expanded with elements from the other line, followed by full integration into a comprehensive data warehousing infrastructure product line, Boehm says.