In its largest takeover since acquiring Lotus, IBM is to buy software development tools company Rational Software for approximately $2.1bn (£1.33bn).
Rational provides software and services to 98 of the Fortune 100 companies, including IBM itself, operating in a market that analyst group IDC estimates will grow from $9bn (£5.7bn) now to $15bn (£9.5bn) by 2006.
Michael Devlin, Rational's chief executive, said: "The combination of IBM and Rational is a logical extension to what has been a very beneficial 20-year relationship."
IBM vice president Steve Mills said: "This is an important part of IBM's On Demand strategy."
Rational would help provide infrastructure software and tools to give customers a complete software development environment, IBM said.
In recent months integrated development environment companies like Borland and modelling tools specialists such as Rational have been moving into each other's territories as they expand across the development lifecycle and adopt open standards.
One driver has been the Object Management Group's model-driven architecture standard that attempts to convert standard system models into application code.
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