IBM Shores Up Its EII Offerings with Venetica Acquisition
Venetica’s technology will find its way into IBM’s DB2 Information Integrator family of products
Late last month, IBM Corp. acquired Venetica, a privately held company that specializes in solutions for unstructured content management.
IBM itself has some expertise in the unstructured content management space, starting with its DB2 Information Integrator for Unstructured Content product. So why did Big Blue make the Venetica acquisition?
IBM’s own statements actually deepen the mystery. Officials have said that once the acquisition is complete, Venetica’s technology will find its way into the DB2 Information Integrator family of products. (Big Blue also markets a vanilla version of DB2 Information Integrator designed for use with relational data stores.) What’s more, Venetica's operations will be integrated into IBM’s Information Integration group as part of its Information Management software business.
Information Integrator, of course, is IBM’s enterprise information integration (EII) offering. Although the EII marketplace has been peppered with start-ups and other specialty players for some time, Big Blue was one of the first prominent vendors to field a dedicated EII offering (see http://www.esj.com/business_intelligence/article.asp?id=6779&t=y). Since first shipping DB2 Information Integrator last year, and then following up that release several months later with DB2 Information Integrator for Content, IBM has also announced a beta release of the next version of DB2 Information Integrator, code-named Masala (see http://www.esj.com/business_intelligence/article.asp?id=7127&t=y). Just where does Venetica fit into the picture?
One possibility, says Rob Lerner, a senior analyst for application infrastructures with consultancy Current Analysis, is that Venetica gives IBM access to a wide variety of non-IBM data sources, including EMC/Documentum, FileNet, Hummingbird, Interwoven, Open Text, and Stellent.
“[M]ost of this content [currently accessible by DB2 Information Integrator] resides in IBM repositories, and Venetica will therefore enable IBM to augment its reach, offering bi-directional access to a range of non-IBM content repository and workflow systems,” he writes. “As a result, IBM should have a more compelling story for providing customers access to the wide range of unstructured content that resides outside of relational databases.”
If IBM’s past acquisitions are any indication, the technology assets of Venetica won’t be pipelined into any a single product, however. After all, Big Blue also markets a dedicated content-management offering (DB2 Content Manager) along with a lightweight edition called DB2 Content Manager Express. There’s a good chance that some of Venetica’s know-how could wend its way into these offerings as well. “[IBM] will … leverage the technology with its portal, application server, business process, and content management solutions,” Lerner writes. “Indeed, the integration with IBM DB2 Content Manager will certainly enhance the solution’s ability to capture and modify content from a wide variety of non-IBM sources.”
With any acquisition, there’s always the danger that the whole—that is, the two combined companies—may not be greater than the sum of its parts. Lerner cites IBM’s impressive track record with acquisitions—in the document management space alone, Big Blue has made three acquisitions in the last 20 months—and notes that IBM and Venetica have also partnered in the past. For these reasons, Lerner says IBM’s integration of Venetica’s personnel and technology assets “should be a relatively routine” process.
“Venetica had already developed a number of Content Bridges for IBM,” he says, citing offerings for IBM DB2 Content Manager, IBM Content Manager ImagePlus, IBM Content Manager OnDemand, and others. Moreover, argues Lerner, “the companies had also engaged in some joint sales and marketing activities, and Venetica’s main market segments [banking, insurance, and government] are IBM strongholds.”
Big Blue usually does right by the customers of the companies it has acquired, but Lerner nevertheless says there are some concerns. Venetica has existing partnerships with several prominent companies, some of which—such as BEA Systems Inc., Microsoft, and Sun—could conceivably be alarmed by the acquisition. “While some of these partners are also IBM partners, a number … are not and they will likely be concerned not only about IBM’s support of the relationship but also of IBM’s presence in some of their accounts,” he notes.
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Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.