IBM Buys Directory Integration Firm

Adding another company to its integration portfolio, IBM Corp. said Tuesday it had bought directory integration software vendor Metamerge. IBM did not disclose how much it paid for the private company based in Oslo, Norway.

Metamerge makes software to help enterprises link data between directories, which serve as repositories of user information. It can link with common directory platforms like IBM Directory, Microsoft Corp.’s Active Directory, and Novell Directory Services, as well as directories embedded in enterprise applications like SAP and Siebel.

“This is a critical area in the integration space,” says Ambuj Goyal, general manager of solutions and strategy for IBM Software Group. Enterprises frequently need to consolidate user information from a variety of applications into a single source for ease of management and flexibility.

Metamerge’s products do much of the heavy lifting in getting often incompatible directories to talk to each other. “They integrate multiple directories, including proprietary directories like Active Directory,” Goyal says.

Metamerge Integrator takes user data out of repositories and constructs metadata for both information sharing and run-time purposes. IBM products like IBM Directory and Tivoli Identity Management use open LDAP repositories, so Metamerge Integrator can use the information more or less natively. The product takes information out of proprietary directories and converts it into open formats.

Goyal regards the Metamerge acquisition as filling in another hole in IBM’s integration strategy, much like its CrossWorlds acquisition last year.

“They’re consistent with our middleware and integration strategy,” Goyal says. IBM needed the company’s products to fulfill customer needs, so Big Blue thought the best way to ensure products met the company’s strategy was to put investment dollars into the company.

While IBM had a reseller relationship with Metamerge before the acquisition, and many of the products were tailored to IBM software, Goyal says there are a number of advantages to having the company in-house. First, IBM can invest more money into development than the smaller company could, accelerating the rate products come to market. Second, IBM has more control over Metamerge’s strategic direction.

Goyal says the first IBM-branded product from Metamerge, IBM Directory Integrator, will ship immediately.