IBM Acquires Monitoring-Toolmaker Candle

Big Blue fills in gaps in its systems management portfolio by buyout of 28-year-old company.

In a bid to enhance its On Demand strategy, IBM Corp. last week acquired privately-held Candle Corp.

Candle has been a provider of products and services for mainframe and distributed platforms for almost 28 years. It markets Omegamon, a leading monitoring solution for Big Blue’s S/390 and zSeries mainframes, along with a raft of related management and monitoring tools—such as PathWAI, a tool for IBM’s WebSphere Application Server.

According to Robert LeBlanc, general manager of IBM’s Tivoli software group, Candle helps to fill some gaps in IBM’s systems management portfolio, particularly with respect to performance and availability management and monitoring. “It really is to provide both breadth and depth to the portfolio that we’ve got today in our systems management area, in some cases, Candle fills gaps that we have in the capability of our portfolio,” he comments, noting that in cases in which there’s some overlap between the two companies’ offerings, Candle typically provides “much more depth in analysis and analytics.”

By combining what Candle does best with IBM’s own expertise, LeBlanc says, Big Blue can offer customers a solution that is greater than the sum of its parts. “We really believe we can offer customers a more comprehensive set of the end-to-end solution, so this is really being driven by marketplace needs and by customer needs, where customers increasingly are looking to integrate their environment from end to end,” he asserts.

In this respect, says LeBlanc, Candle helps to shore up On Demand: “Customers need to be able to change the infrastructure flexibly to match the business process changes that are going on within the organization, so this fits as a … very critical piece of IBM’s On Demand initiative.”

Candle, an independent entity for nearly 28 years, has been an IBM partner almost since its inception, and has hundreds of loyal customers. Why did it agree to be acquired? The short version, says Candle president and chief operating officer Andy Mullins, is that “changes in the market conditions” make it difficult for Candle to continue as an independent company.

“Buyers are really looking for single providers who can provide more of a total solution across their environment on an end-to-end basis,” he says. “Candle as a small and medium-sized company really had two choices to make, and that is to either dramatically expand its own portfolio or to merge with some partner who was synergistic in what we could provide to them.”

Both companies took pains to reassure existing users of Candle’s software. “We also looked at the value system of how customers are treated and supported, how employees are managed and supported, and just the total picture of style of operation, and based on that, we saw that as being a very, very good fit on all of those fronts,” says Mullins.

Adds LeBlanc: “[I]t is our intent to continue to support all of the Candle customers that are dependent on Candle products today to run their critical IT infrastructures, and we’ll continue to support them moving in the future.” IBM doesn’t yet know if it will rename Candle’s existing products, he said.

Big Blue should complete the acquisition in the second quarter of this year, LeBlanc confirms, although Candle is not destined to become a distinct IBM software brand, a la Lotus, Rational, and Tivoli. Financial details were not disclosed.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.