In the year since Oracle launched a bid for its rival, the two have spent a combined total of $130 million – and this is before any deal goes through. In contrast, IBM (whose last hostile bid was for Lotus a decade ago) has taken a less antagonistic approach to its recent acquisitions. The agreement to acquire privately held content integration software vendor, Venetica, is yet another example of IBM buying companies with which it already has well-established relationships – and then pulling their functionality into its DB2 database family. Previously, in June 2004, IBM snapped up analytic software maker Alphablox; a year earlier it bought Aptrix, the content management software company.
IBM had already optimised its DB2 database to work with Venetica’s VeniceBridge software – a tool that integrates unstructured data, such as images, scanned documents and video, from a variety of applications. But this friendly acquisition gives IBM the long-term control it wants over the technology.
Venetica’s technology line up includes a large number of adapters that link to repositories of other content management providers, including Hummingbird, Interwoven and Documentum. While IBM has said it will continue to support its rivals existing agreements with Venetica, customers of these vendors should “revisit in-place solutions and ensure their stability,” says David Yockelson of analysts Meta Group.
IBM is not alone in looking at tackling the increasingly tough challenge of dealing with mission-critical, unstructured data that resides outside of ‘alphanumeric’ databases.
Storage software maker Veritas had that idea in mind with its acquisition of UK-based email archiving vendor, KVault Software for £126 million in cash. KVS claims to have sold 7.5 million user licences to customers such as legal firm Clifford Chance, British Gas and Sony UK. And analyst firm Gartner says the deal should strengthen both companies.
Meanwhile, other software makers are seeing the value in adding consulting services to their portfolios. Security software company Symantec has bolstered its services side with the acquisition of two consulting firms: UK-based Liric Associates and US firm @Stake for undisclosed amounts. Liric specialises in securing highly complex global networks and includes the Ministry of Defence among its clients. Consultancy firm @Stake was founded by a group of ‘grey-hat’ hackers who eschewed damaging corporate networks, instead selling their expertise to clients. @Stake also makes software that detects possible security holes in applications.