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IBM Gets Webify For SOAs

IBM  today agreed to purchase partner Webify Solutions, which makes software and services for insurance and health care companies.

The move fortifies IBM's position in the service-oriented architecture (SOA)  market, where existing technology is reused to cut code development and implementation costs.

Webify, of Austin, Texas, specializes in "fabrics," or software tools and frameworks that help businesses build composite applications for SOAs.

These composite applications, which use the best assets from individual applications, alleviate the burdens companies face in setting up distributed computing systems and will be added to IBM's WebSphere software portfolio.

For example, Webify helps companies meet compliance regulations, such as HIPAA for health care companies and ACORD in the insurance industry, said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of IBM's WebSphere software, on a conference call.

Webify is currently working on fabrics for the banking and telecommunications sectors.

Acquiring Webify will add semantic integration, business-process modeling and composition and service consumption capabilities to WebSphere, said ZapThink analyst Ronald Schmelzer.

"While IBM certainly had some of these pieces, Webify did a good job of 'filling in the cracks' of the IBM solution and putting it together in such a way that customers would have a better chance of realizing value from an SOA solution delivered on an IBM technology platform," Schmelzer said.

To be sure, Webify and IBM are already quite familiar with one another; Webify leverages IBM's WebSphere portfolio in its fabrics and the partners have an SOA contract with the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company (FFIC).

IBM already makes and sells plenty of software and services for SOAs.

But with rivals BEA Systems , Sun Microsystems , Oracle  and others nipping at its heels in this multi-billion-dollar SOA market, IBM wants to pad its portfolio as much as possible.

Financial terms of the deal were not made public.

Webify's products will join IBM's WebSphere Integration Developer, WebSphere Process Server and the WebSphere Service Registry and Repository, all geared to enable SOAs that link technology to business processes, said LeBlanc.

Webify's fabrics will also be available through IBM's global services group.

Roughly 120 Webify employees based in Austin, Texas, and Mumbai, India, will join IBM.

This includes Webify CEO and chairman Manoj Saxena, who will continue to manage Webify. He will also undertake additional responsibilities for IBM's SOA strategy, reporting to LeBlanc.