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Informatica Puts in For Structure

Data-integration software specialist Informatica  announced a rare acquisition bid today, agreeing to take partner Itemfield for $55 million in cash.

Itemfield makes ContentMaster, a brand of data-transformation software that helps customers with disparate information types access unstructured and semi-structured data without custom programming.

Unstructured data includes e-mails, spreadsheets, PDFs and photo files. ContentMaster supports unstructured data created in Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, Postscript, PCL, SUN StarOffice, AFP and HTML.

ContentMaster also supports semi-structured data created in XML-based data exchange standards, such as SWIFT for international funds transfer by financial services firms and HL7 for patient clinical data records by health care groups.

The deal makes sense for the two partners.

For the past year, Informatica has offered Itemfield's ContentMaster software as a complement to its PowerCenter data-integration platform, which manages structured data, such as XML queries, typically lodged in databases.

Supporting the unstructured data is key, as experts believe some 80 percent of data within enterprises is estimated to be in unstructured formats, including Word and Excel as well as Adobe PDF file formats.

The proliferation of data in general makes it imperative that corporations have a convenient way of extracting all three forms of data from repositories.

Making ContentMaster an owned asset in PowerCenter gives Informatica the clout to help customers access and integrate all forms of data, from structured to unstructured and semi-structured data in batch and real-time applications.

Buying Itemfield has other perks for Informatica besides filling a content management gap; Itemfield has over 150 customers, including American Airlines, Natexis Bank and health care IT services company, McKesson.

The buy would fill an important hole for Informatica, which aims to compete with data-integration giant IBM .

Big Blue picked up data-transformation and other key integration components when it purchased Ascential Software for $1.1 billion in 2005.

Ascential acquired data transformation software when it bought Mercator in 2003.

Acquisitions are rare for Informatica.

The company last picked up data-quality provider Similarity Systems for $55 million in January.

Before Similarity, Informatica purchased mainframe integration provider Striva for $62 million in 2003 and mobile software maker Zimba for $25 million in 2000.