IBM touts middleware for information management

IBM touts middleware for information management

New Master Data Management Server to provide single view on customers, goods

IBM has released a slew of new products that are intended to underscore its commitment to the 'information management' space.

At its second annual Information on Demand Conference taking place in Las Veags this week, the firm released the version 8.4 of its Enterprise Content Management product and previewed IBM Data Studio as well as its Master Data Management Server.

Data Studio is a free, Eclipse based tool that manages data life cycles. Available for download by the end of this month, it promises improved development times by automating the design, development and deployment of information.

The Master Data Management Server essentially acts as a data integration tool, allowing customers to manage all their data from a single point, regardless of the database in which the information is stored or the department that owns the information. The server is currently in beta and is scheduled for general availability by the first quarter of next year.

"The world is moving into an era of extreme transaction processing, extreme information management," said Steve Mills, IBM's senior vice president in charge of software.

"The ability to handle large amounts of volume is absolutely critical to the business models that we are trying to get to."

Mills projected the server as an essential component for a service orient architecture (SOA). Service oriented architectures offer a platform for componentized applications, allowing end users or applications architects to piece together applications by combining functionalities.

As SOAs eliminate barriers between departments, IBM's Master Data Management Server provides access to information from all over an organization.

IBM intends the server to provide a single view across a company on data items such as customers, products or accounts. This for instance could prevent an insurance provider from alienating a good client when one of his children is proving to be a bad driver that costs the firm too much money.

As both services and data become universally accessible, organizations also can start architecting large-scale event servers, where large sets of information are fed into an application and processed in real time.

Such an event server can help assure that a firm maintains it service level agreements by constantly measuring service levels. It also could predict the results that a storm will have on the operations of an airline, allowing it to reroute baggage and passengers, reassign crews and assign aircraft.

Today, such analyses are typically performed based on data that is stored in the database, providing a mere snapshot of the real situation. In the case of an airline, this will lead to stranded passengers and planes waiting for pilots and cabin crews.

Mills projected that as more data gets stored, demands on event servers also will further increase.

IBM has vowed to invest $1bn in its Information on Demand initiative over a period of three years. The programme is founded on about two dozen acquisitions such as File Net and Princeton Softech. Mills said that the firm will continue its buying spree, but declined to indicate which areas would draw future investments.

IBM's information management moniker puts all of IBM's internal developments and past acquisitions. The brand is an attempt to "cut IBM software into pieces so it's easier to digest," argued Charles King a principal analyst with Pund-IT.