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IBM Moves Further Into Global Markets

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled new versions of two products in its InfoSphere portfolio at The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI) world conference in San Diego.

The new products add capabilities to InfoSphere Information Server that let it sort and match names and addresses in languages other than English and from other cultures worldwide. This will be done through service oriented architecture (SOA) enabled interfaces.

IBM has also released a new version of WebSphere Product Center, now known as InfoSphere Master Data Management (MDM) Server for Product Information Management (PIM). This lets businesses maintain one view of product information for use throughout the enterprise, and can manage millions of products in different areas.

MDM Server for PIM continues the WebSphere Product Center's mission of getting companies to market more quickly. It is tightly integrated with the InfoSphere Information Server, and both products are targeted at global companies.

"There's higher growth happening in Brazil, Russia, India and China than happening in Western countries, and so that's an area of focus for us," Michael Curry, IBM's director of product management and strategy for InfoSphere, told InternetNews.com. "We invest in these technologies to be a leader in those markets," Curry added.

The combination of global name recognition capabilities and global address capabilities "now covering over 240 countries worldwide for address cleansing, twice what we had before," helps companies with a worldwide presence better manage their customer data and their marketing, Curry said.

IBM has translated all the user interfaces of Information Server into eight other languages in addition to English so that "when you have teams in different countries, they can work in their native language," Curry said. These other languages are Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Right now, IBM is playing catch-up to Informatica (NASDAQ: INFA) in a rapidly growing market. Interest in name and address resolution technology is increasing, Informatica marketing director Jim Jarvie told InternetNews.com.

Informatica recently purchased Nokia (NYSE: NOK) subsidiary Identity Systems to provide enterprises with end-to-end data integration.

An uptick of interest beyond English

Globalization is one of three factors driving that interest, according to Jarvie. "Today, with increasing globalization, data entering the data stream is internationalized," he explained. "There's more than Western English, and that's why we see an uptick of interest in doing what we call matching cross-script," Jarvie said.

The second factor is regulation. "There are regulatory requirements that everyone who wants to conduct business knows who they're doing business with, so they aren't dealing with suspected criminals or terrorists," Jarvie said.

However, conducting checks on people from other countries is difficult, because "often you don't have their full name, just an address or description," Jarvie said. That's where matching data and addresses is useful.

The third factor is the proliferation of data. "The volume of data we've seen over the past decade has grown exponentially, and some of our biggest customers have been the big data aggregators -- the credit bureaus, the data providers," Jarvie said.

Informatica's core identity resolution engine is used in Oracle's customer hub and in MDM hubs from Siperian and Purisma, "all three highly rated as having some of the best MDM solutions available," Jarvie said.

Like InfoSphere Information Server, IBM's MDM for PIM has been opened up to SOA and can be accessed within a SOA. Curry said the tight integration of the two products helps enterprises handle the complexities of matching product data across systems.

InfoSphere Information Server makes it "very easy" to access mainframe data as a service," according to Curry. This includes VSAM files, Adabase and other databases.

"We make those sources look like a SQL data source and can write SQL against them and publish the data as a service even if, like VSAM, they don't support SQL," Curry said. InfoSphere Information Server also has a log-based change data capture mechanism for IMF and VSAM to VSAM replication capability because "we see a lot of demand for access to mainframe data," Curry added.