IBM Makes Bowstreet, Micromuse Buys
January 3, 2006 Alex Woodie
IBM announced a pair of acquisitions just before the year-end holidays: Micromuse, a provider of network and server monitoring software, and Bowstreet, a developer of Java-based tools for writing Web portals. Both of the vendors’ products support the iSeries, among most other major platforms.
IBM plans to operate Micromuse as a business unit within its Tivoli brand, where its Netcool suite will be used to bolster IBM’s capabilities for monitoring voice over IP and video on demand monitoring, according to Al Zollar, the former iSeries general manager who is now heading up Tivoli. “Today’s networks are no longer just pipelines of data–customers are incorporating data, voice, and video into their business operations at an astounding pace,” Zollar says. “The combination of Micromuse and IBM Tivoli will help companies manage these sophisticated IT environments, deploy new business service management solutions, and deliver new network-based services.”
San Francisco-based Micromuse has about 1,800 customers around the world, including many large mainframe users in the telecommunications, cable TV, and Internet service provider (ISP) businesses. While the company’s software ran primarily on Unix, Linux, and Windows servers, it could monitor a wide range of devices through SNMP traps and agents, such as the one it developed for monitoring OS/400 servers and its various message queues in the fall of 2001 (see “Micromuse Announces Support for AS/400 and iSeries”).
IBM has agreed to pay the publicly traded San Francisco company approximately $865 million, or $10 per share, a hefty premium on Micromuse’s fiscal 2005 revenues of about $161 million. The acquisition is subject to Micromuse shareholder and regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the first quarter of the year.
A day before announcing the plan to buy Micromuse, IBM announced it had acquired Bowstreet for an undisclosed sum. The Massachusetts software firm had worked with IBM to support WebSphere Application Server and the WebSphere Portals with its suite of development tools, which are called the Portlet Factory. Bowstreet has also supported OS/400 since 2004 (see “Bowstreet Brings ‘Portlet Factory’ to iSeries”).
Bowstreet supported other Web application frameworks with its software, but IBM seemed to have a special place in its heart (and pocketbook) for the Portlet Factory, which is kind of a rapid application development (RAD) tool designed to eliminate the steep learning curve of Java 2, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) coding and which allows non-technical people to create portal apps by stringing together a series of pre-built “building blocks.” While IBM has made Java the cornerstone of its Web application strategy for years, it has struggled to really make shift to Java pay off, in large part due to the skills gap between where IBM is driving its platform and how fast programmers are willing to move to get there. This reluctance is perhaps most evident in the group of programmers who use RPG and COBOL to write applications for OS/400, which is an operating system and database platform that IBM designed from the beginning to be easy to write applications for.
IBM is framing its acquisition of Bowstreet as a way to further its service oriented architecture (SOA) and composite application strategy. The company says customers can write portal applications from 2 to 12 times faster using a combination of the Portlet Factor and IBM’s Rational development tools, according to a study of 100 joint customer engagements over the last three years.
You can expect some sort of bundle of Bowstreet, WebSphere Portal, and the Rational tools from IBM sometime in the near future. “By combining the integration capabilities of WebSphere Portal with the simplicity, versatility, and speed of Bowstreet, IBM is giving customers the ability to quickly and easily build flexible, data-centric portal solutions that maximize the value of their legacy applications and help them better compete,” said Mike Rhodin, general manager of IBM’s workplace, portal, and collaboration business.