In a bid to boost its software integration strategy, IBM has acquired directory software specialists Metamerge.
Experts were left puzzled by the bid, however, as most believed that Big Blue had all the directory technology it needed.
Mike Thompson, principal research analyst at Butler Group, said: "What we have to look at is how much of Metamerge is needed by IBM.
"There are maybe just one or two pieces of technology that are important. It is easier for IBM to buy the whole company than develop the technology itself."
Others insisted that the deal is crucial to IBM as it seeks to make its web services products more attractive in the face of growing competition from Microsoft and BEA.
"Metamerge will give IBM some useful directory technology that will make it more directly competitive with some of the active directory structures around [Microsoft's] .Net," explained Andrew Barker, senior analyst at Forrester. "It is something that makes some logic."
The move follows IBM's acquisition of CrossWorld's business process integration software in January.
Ambuj Goyal, general manager at IBM Software Group, maintained that combining Metamerge's directory integration technology with IBM's directory offerings is "the best possible approach for our customers".
Big Blue intends to incorporate Metamerge's product into all of its server-based software, including WebSphere, DB2, Lotus and Tivoli.
The move is essential for IBM as metadirectory technology is seen as the missing piece in its software family as it adds directory integration to its portfolio of software that helps customers integrate all aspects of their ecommerce operations.
A directory is a database optimised to store and retrieve user, resource and other key network information.
Directory integration aggregates this information, which is stored across directories and databases provided by multiple software vendors, and which runs on a variety of operating systems.
According to Gartner, more than 70 per cent of firms with more than 1,000 desktops will implement metadirectory technology by 2005.
Metadirectories connect data from different sources and directories across an organisation, and the new software will allow data and other types of information to flow freely between databases, applications, portals and other business processes.
IBM said that the deal includes Metamerge's core directory integration software as well as software tools to manage the metadirectory.
Metamerge will be integrated immediately into the IBM Software Group and its products are already available from IBM.
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