Monday, June 25, 2007

IBM acquisitive and dynamic

It looks like IBM has a plan. A number of recent events seem to indicate that IBM has decided how it wants things to look this time next year, and has started to set about making it happen. What am I talking about? Well I have in mind the recent acquisition of Watchfire, a Web application security company, and the “Web 2.0 Goes to Work” initiative.

Watchfire has a product called AppScan, which has been around for a few years now, in fact Watchfire got it by acquiring a company called Sanctum in 2004. IBM needed a good Web security product to go with RACF, it’s well-known mainframe security software, and, of course, its ISS purchase. Internet Security Systems cost IBM $1.3bn. The company sold intrusion detection and vulnerability assessment tools and services to secure corporate networks. Once it’s happy the Internet is secure, IBM can move forward with its new Web initiative.

Before I go on to talk about that, you might be interested to know that HP has bought SPI Dynamics, another Web security company. Whether HP bought the company to stop IBM getting it, or whether they have plans to integrate WebInspect (one of SPI’s products) with their own products, I just don’t know.

Anyway, the “Web 2.0 Goes to Work” initiative, announced 20 June, is IBM’s way of bringing the value of Web 2.0 into the enterprise. By the value of Web 2.0, they are thinking about things like easy access to information-rich browser-based applications, as well as social networking and collaboration software. No IBM announcement is complete these days without the letters S, O, and A appearing somewhere. IBM said that SOA helps build a flexible computing infrastructure and Web 2.0 provides users with the software required to create rich, lightweight, and easily-deployable software solutions.

Cutting through the hype, IBM has actually announced Lotus Connections, comprising social bookmarking and tagging, rich directories including skills and projects, activity dashboards, collaboration among like-minded communities, and weblogs or blogging. Lotus Quickr is a collaboration tool offering blogs, wikis, and templates. Thirdly, WebSphere Commerce now makes online shopping easier. Full details of the announcement can be found at
www.ibm.com/web20.

IBM is clearly thinking ahead and definitely doesn’t want to be seen as the company selling “dinosaur” mainframes. A strong move into the Web 2.0 arena is clearly sensible – and making sure security is locked down tightly means IBM can retain its reputation for reliability.

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