IBM Gets Vertical With CrossRoads Acquisition

IBM Corp. said todayit would purchase CrossWorlds Software, Inc.for $129 million. CrossWorlds creates business logic components for verticalapplications.

IBM is hardly scooping up a company out of the blue –Crossworlds and IBM have collaborated to integrate its technology with IBMmiddleware for the past four years. “It became clear that an acquisition ofCrossWorlds… was a critical next step,” said Steve Mills, senior vice presidentand group executive, IBM software, announcing the purchase.

CrossWorlds creates business logic components fromstandard languages such as XML and J2EE for integrating applications. Much ofthe collaboration between the two companies has focused on using IBM’smiddleware products like WebSphere and MQSeries.

Some of the logic components are targeted at the specificneeds of vertical markets, needs that were previously too specific for IBM tointegrate into WebSphere or other middleware. For example, CrossWorlds offersconnectors for supply-chain management products for the manufacturing industryand connectors for applications specific to the financial services industry.

CrossWorlds also makes connectors to meet technologicalneeds such as host integration, allowing data stored in legacy systems to sharedata with application servers and messaging servers.

Fred Amoroso, president and CEO of CrossWorlds, believesthe merger will make life easier for its customers. “The Customer won’t have toknit together the piece parts, but will have a complete solution,” he says. IBMaims to make itself into a one-stop-shop for enterprise integration products.

Mills compared the CrossWorlds acquisition to another,recent IBM acquisition – the April purchase of Informix. He and Amoroso hintedIBM would begin to integrate interfaces for component architecture – such asXML and J2EE – into platform applications such as DB2, in a similar way to theway Data Mining and OLAP functionality has gradually worked its way intodatabase servers.

Addressing the competitive threat from Microsoft Corp.’s.NET initative, which offers component architectures with XML and the C#Java-alike, Amoroso said Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do before it cancompete with IBM. “The first thing is, the product is here, and it works,” hesaid, referring to Redmond’s lack of shipping product. In addition, he saidthat unlike Microsoft middleware, “We’re able to link many different products.  –ChrisMcConnell