IBM unveils 'Hawk' as information integration server

IBM revealed a new name and a price for its data integration technology, which was rechristened Information Server and starts at US$100,000

IBM has provided pricing details and a new name for its data integration technology formerly code-named "Hawk," which the vendor acquired through the 2005 US$1.1 billion purchase of Ascential.

Dubbed Information Server, IBM plans to make the data integration software generally available next month with entry-level configuration pricing starting at US$100,000. Around 75 IBM customers have been beta testing the product over the past several months, according to company executives, and more than 35 partners are announcing their support for the platform this week including Cognos, Intel and Sun Microsystems.

IBM unveiled Information Server Monday during its Information On Demand conference taking place in California.

IBM was particularly bullish on Information Server. It is positioning the offering as ready to lead the field in understanding, cleansing, transforming and delivering reliable, in-context information that had been previously scattered across organizations. The product should also function as an important building block for users looking to adopt the service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach for creating reusable Web applications and services, the IBM executives said.

"A whole new category and industry will develop around it," said Tom Inman, vice president of marketing at IBM's information management unit, during a conference call. Much in the same way that application server and portal server industry segments have emerged over the past few years, IBM expects an information server market to develop, he added.

Information Server will ship with a copy of IBM's DB2 database and the vendor's Application Server, but the product can be used with third-party offerings as well, according to Pete Fiore, IBM's vice president of information integration solutions. The product is a set of components so customers "can purchase as much or as little as they need," he said. However, Fiore stressed that Information Server was more than a simple software bundle. IBM has fully rearchitected the technologies it gained from Ascential and automated as many common data integration tasks as possible, he said.

Monday's news builds on the announcement IBM made back in February when it pledged to invest an additional US$1 billion in data management software and services, Inman said.

The evolution of Information Server will be "a journey," said Ambuj Goyal, IBM's general manager of its information management business. Customers will determine what future functionality will be included such as unstructured search capabilities. "This is a starting point," he added. "We'll keep adding to Information Server."

IBM also talked about other products that can be layered on top Information Server, including the latest release of the vendor's master data management software WebSphere Customer Center 7.0. IBM also introduced a data warehouse software, server and storage bundle for Linux-based enterprises known as the IBM Data Warehousing Balanced Configuration Unit for Linux (BCU). The company additionally previewed the next major release of its Informix Dynamic Server (IDS) database due out next year and code-named "Cheetah".

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