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What Does it all Mean?

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photo, William McKnight

On March 15, 2005, IBM announced it had agreed to buy Ascential Software Corp. for approximately $1.1 billion. If you work in business intelligence (BI), or even generally stay aware of business, you already know this. The deal has closed. Ascential will become a business unit in IBM's Information Management software division, where it will be integrated with WebSphere Information Integrator. It's quite possible that some road maps have been laid out by now as well. While my column may be lousy for reporting "hard" news, I want to outline some of the serious long-term ramifications of this deal.

I believe this is completely in line with the direction I stated in my August 2003 Business Intelligence Best Practices Newsletter #7 as follows: "We're not yet at the complete commoditization of business intelligence product suites, but we're close. With commoditization comes consolidation, and that is what we are experiencing now. It is not innovative in a free market for 10 companies to be working on the same set of enhancements to their products. Two or three will do. We still have yet to see who the two or three will be, but it makes complete sense to view any new business intelligence purchases in context of a framework. There are only a handful of frameworks left that make sense for business intelligence."

It was never in doubt that IBM would be on the list of lead vendors in the frameworks and an ultimate survivor in BI. I had also stated in the newsletter that "IBM has a relationship with ETI (ETL) and Business Objects (data access), and frequently recommended them in their consulting proposals. It will be interesting to see what becomes of ETI. IBM could also pursue MicroStrategy or Cognos and become an immediate top BI software...