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Actuate Snaps Up Nimble Technology

Business intelligence (BI) software maker Actuate has purchased privately-held business integration software provider Nimble Technology in the latest of a series of software acquisitions over the last several weeks.

San Francisco's Actuate acquired the Seattle-based Nimble for an undisclosed amount to sew Nimble's XML-based technology into its server software to make it easier for customers to construct integrated applications.

Nimble's platform uses XQuery, an XML-based query engine that transforms disparate data into business information without manual coding, to make data integration easier when building Web services and applications such as enterprise information portals and business intelligence systems.

Companies such as BEA Systems, IBM and Oracle have been working on XQuery as the alternative to the aged SQL query language. Applications and systems that use XQuery, such as BEA's Liquid Data and IBM's Information Integrator, can handle evolving business needs on the fly.

Such integration, coupled with BI software the identifies customer patterns and trends, paves the way for more efficient enterprise computing. Moreover, the companies said adding Nimble's software will help Actuate's platform to integrate more easily with a number of XML-enabled systems. With the push for more hard-line regulations on, enterprises are requiring uniform, dashboard-like data rendering, which Actuate provides.

Eric Rogge, vice president and research director at Ventana Research, said Actuate is smart in acquiring Nimble because it expands Actuate's suite in areas where it is weakest, such as ad hoc query analysis, and adds built-in distributed query support.

"It's not a slam dunk," Rogge told internetnews.com. "They have additional development work to do on top of that, such as adding alerting capabilities" to compete with such market leaders as Cognos or Business Objects. "This space is shaping up to see a handful of suite vendors, one of who's going to win, but it will be a question of how the vendors differentiate themselves from the rest."

Speaking of differentiation, Rogge said Actuate makes unique technology such as its E-spreadsheet Server, which allows corporations to serve spreadsheets from a central server to individual desktops and offer a "what if" analysis. Rogge wouldn't hazard a guess as to whether Actuate would build or buy alerting capabilities, but said additional acquisitions are not our of the question.

The deal comes one week after Hyperion snapped up Brio Software for $142 million and less than two weeks after Business Objects grabbed Crystal Decisions for $820 million.

There are other mergers pending in the business software space, albeit less amiable. PeopleSoft, which acquired J.D. Edwards nearly two weeks ago, is trying to fend off a hostile takeover bid from applications rival Oracle.

Actuate, which competes with Cognos , Business Objects , has over 2,000 direct customers and 300 OEM partners in financial services, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and distribution services, as well as the government sector.