IBM and Ascential Software Corporation announced the two companies have entered into a definitive agreement for IBM to acquire the equity of Ascential Software in an all cash transaction at a price of approximately $1.1 billion or $18.50 per share. The acquisition is subject to Ascential Software shareholder and regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2005. The acquisition complements IBM’s information integration business, a key part of the company’s information management efforts and a unit that produced triple-digit growth in 2004. Ascential Software’s ability to gather, move and enhance the quality of large amounts of data complements IBM’s WebSphere Information Integrator product portfolio. WebSphere Information Integrator software enables customers to centrally manage and access data that is stored across a variety of structured and unstructured sources, from IBM and non-IBM vendors. IBM will: establish Ascential Software’s operations as a business unit within IBM’s Information Management software division; incorporate Ascential Software technology and solutions into IBM’s Information Management and Software Group offerings; and market and sell Ascential Software products through IBM’s and Ascential Software’s worldwide sales channels and Business Partners. www.ibm.com, www.ascential.com
Ektron Inc. announced the release of DMS400, a document management system that supports the requirements of mid-market and enterprise-level organizations. With DMS400 knowledge workers can collaborate on projects, as well as search and access documents, images, multimedia and other information assets within a process-driven Web-based solution. Ektron DMS400 enables organizations to streamline processes for creating, editing publishing and sharing documents and other assets while providing organizations with real-time monitoring of information to address accountability and auditing issues associated with managing these files. Because it’s tightly integrated with Microsoft technologies, individuals can create and manage Microsoft Office files, and a wide range of additional file types including PDF’s, images, and audio and videos files. It also enables users to collaborate on projects and search and access documents via the Web. Ektron DMS400 is currently available as an add-on to the Ektron CMS product line. Pricing begins at $11,400 USD for a 10-seat CMS-DMS bundle and $46,000 USD for an enterprise bundle (unlimited users). DMS400 will be available as a stand-alone product in May. www.ektron.com
ebrary announced that several new collections specifically for government and military libraries are now available through the ebrary Dynamic Content Platform (DCP). ebrary’s DCP is a hosted content delivery service that combines software with full-text books, reports, and other authoritative content from STM, academic, and professional publishers. The new collections include Business, Management & Leadership, Computers, Technology & Engineering, International Relations & Military Affairs, Government Affairs, and Science & Environmental Studies. Additionally, ebrary announced that it is seeking pilot customers for its new, server-based technology, which will ship in Q3 2005. Code named “Isaac,” this technology will change how PDF content can be distributed, shared, and managed from behind an institution’s firewall. Both the ebrary DCP and Isaac include the ebrary Reader and InfoTools. The ebrary Reader optimizes page-by-page delivery of PDF documents. InfoTools links search queries to multiple online databases, as well as information on the Web. www.ebrary.com
Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) unveiled FAST mSearch, a mobile search solution to collectively integrate content such as music, games, ring tones, and images with highly relevant content from the mobile Web, providing users with an optimized and more personal search experience on their mobile devices. FAST mSearch, the latest Search Derivative Application (SDA) to leverage the FAST Enterprise Search Platform (FAST ESP), enables carriers to provide integration of their own content with relevant results from content providers and the Mobile Web. FAST mSearch allows revenue opportunities for carriers and content providers by powering a number of business models, such as personalized local search, targeted mobile commerce and advertising services, and multimedia search. www.fastsearch.com
OASIS announced that its members have approved the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) version 2.0 as an OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification. SAML v2.0 enables the secure exchange of authentication, attribute, and authorization information between disparate security domains, making vendor-independent Web single sign-on and secure e-business transactions possible. Version 2.0 adds key functions to create and manage federated networks that combine and appropriately share pre-existing repositories of identity information. SAML leverages core Web services standards including XML, SOAP, Transport Layer Security (TLS), XML Signature (XMLSIG), and XML Encryption (XMLENC). Over 27 member organizations globally participate in this ongoing work, including representatives of AOL, BEA Systems, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Computer Associates, Entrust, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Neustar, Nokia, Novell, Oracle, RSA Security, SAP, and Sun Microsystems. Participation remains open to all. OASIS hosts an open mail list for public comment and the saml-dev mailing list for exchanging information on implementing the standard. www.oasis-open.org
The Gilbane Report’s Bill Trippe addresses XML integration in “Technical Integration of Taxonomies”. Save the date: March 18 at 2:00 PM EST. Fourth in a series of webinars presented by Earley & Associates. For information or registration
Metadot Corporation announced the availability of the Metadot Portal Server Business Edition. With subscriptions starting at $2,000 per year for varying levels of customer support, the Metadot Business Edition enables individuals to easily create and maintain extranets, intranets, corporate Web sites, project and community portals. The Metadot Business Edition user interface is browser-based, enabling authorized content editors to update Web pages from any location. Anyone who can type can create Web pages and edit content, which eliminates the need to call the IT department to correct typos or add information to a page. The application allows users to manage files, calendars, to-do lists, online forums, documents, online discussions, database queries, customer surveys and newsletter mailing lists from a Web interface. The Metadot Business Edition also includes login support, where Metadot engineers can log in to a customer’s system and fix problems. Annual subscription fees for the Metadot Business Edition start at $2,000, which includes the Metadot Portal Server, installation support, software updates, professional customer support, access to Metadots online training center and optional managed hosting. The Metadot Portal Server runs on Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl, although it also runs in commercial environments such as Sun Solaris, Microsoft Windows, Oracle and more. www.metadot.com
Joe Kraus has a post that applies the now famous long tail argument to software. He admits that the argument applies to software like his own company’s JotSpot, and plugs it in. But if he is right, his argument applies to other products including JotSpot’s competitors.
It is easy to agree with the premises:
- the vast majority of business applications require customization
- most enterprise solutions focus on a few large semi-well-defined application areas because the economics don’t reward small (long tail) opportunity harvesting, and
- there is opportunity here for software entrepreneurs.
Joe argues that a combination of Excel and email are being used to fill the long tail gap, but that they are inadequate. This may be true, but it is a bit of a leap to an implied conclusion that one piece of “blockbuster” software could better meet the needs of the long tail of business requirements in all their diversity.
This is not to say that there won’t be more blockbuster successes that help with long tail business needs — Excel, email, and web browsers are all examples of such a wild horizontal success — and Groove of one that didn’t catch fire (see Bill Trippe’s comment on the Microsoft acquisition), but will some combination of enterprise blog and wiki software be equally successful? Well… maybe. In any case, Joe’s post is thought provoking and his analogy might be richer than he, or any of his commenters to date, realize.