RealTime IT News

No Middling in IBM's Master Plan

IBM today announced new software to help companies make better use of the data scattered throughout their organizations.

The WebSphere products, targeting the so-called "master data management software" market, are designed to present companies with a summary view of their customers, products and other data.

The goal of master data management, a niche IDC says will top $10 billion by 2009, is to ensure that companies can tap software and networks to access accurate, current information.

Such utilities can help companies better manage their service-oriented architecture (SOA) environments for distributed computing and help vendors avoid the pitfalls of failing to get products to customers and partners in a timely fashion.

For example, IBM WebSphere Customer Center Version 6 help enterprises get a quick glance of the status of each of their customers and the relationships they have with the business. The new release includes more than 480 pre-built services that can be consumed by other software to manage and access customer data.

IBM today also unveiled the new IBM WebSphere Product Center, middleware that helps companies develop and manage a complete repository of product information. This helps companies edit product information using enterprise portals and lets retailers synchronize product and trading partner information with suppliers.

Ideally, the software will help customers improve workload management, limit bottlenecks and speed new product introductions.

On the surface, the value of master data management services might be obvious: Helping businesses assemble their key data as efficiently as possible.

But new compliance regulations that require businesses to validate where information comes from, how it relates to other information, and when and how it is derived is another reason why such solutions are high on enterprise priority lists.

Corralling metadata , the attributes that define the content, context, relationships and structure of information, is a key enabler of compliance.

Accordingly, IBM has created a new WebSphere Metadata Server, which facilitates metadata as a service to products within the WebSphere Information Integration platform, part of IBM's Project Hawk effort to integrate the assets of Ascential Software.

The server allows metadata to be more easily managed, accessed by those who need it, and shared across different infrastructures through an SOA.

IBM WebSphere Product Center and IBM WebSphere Customer Center are available today. WebSphere Metadata Server will be available along with the newest version of IBM WebSphere DataStage in spring 2006.

Releases such as the new master data management solutions help IBM bulk up its strong position in management middleware, where it competes with CA, BMC Software, BEA Systems and Microsoft.

The news comes as CA has descended on Las Vegas to introduce its new brand and "Believe Again" strategy for winning back the hearts and minds of investors who have given up on the company in the wake of accounting scandals.