IBM Adds AptSoft to SOA Portfolio

Big Blue purchases the developer of complex event-processing software.

IBM on Wednesday acquired privately held AptSoft, a Burlington, Mass.-based developer of software used to identify and alert businesses to emerging trends and events, which are culled from real-time queries of data stored on all their disparate software applications.

Along with identifying a pattern or potential problem -- say a black boot is dramatically outselling other colors of the same model and there's not enough black boots for distributors and retailers to meet demand -- the software initiates a trigger to warn employees of the impending shortage.

Manufacturing, sales and marketing staffs can then adjust their inventories, ramp production and tailor their sales and marketing campaigns accordingly.

IBM's service-oriented architecture (SOA) software helps companies make sense of this data and, more important, get an analyzed and actionable plan to employees so they can respond to rapidly changing business conditions -- without writing any new code.

Sandy Carter, IBM's vice president of SOA and WebSphere marketing, strategy and channels, said adding AptSoft's Director application to the existing business process management (BPM) functionality in its flagship WebSphere middleware suite will strengthen IBM's SOA and BPM portfolio and give customers the "most intuitive tools for business-led authoring and event management."

"AptSoft elevates event processing to the business level instead of at the deep technology level," Carter said during an conference call announcing the acquisition.

"It's bringing event processing to the business," she added. "Today, typically, only engineers understand these events. We want business to be able to leverage these business signals."

IBM said AptSoft's software will be embedded into its WebSphere platform by "early summer," and the company outlined exactly how and when the integrated product will be available during its Impact 2008 conference in early April.

AptSoft, founded in 2002, is one of several providers of complex event processing (CEP) programs that apply rules to pinpoint patterns and trends that might otherwise go unnoticed by IT administrators.

Like Coral8, StreamBase and Aleri, AptSoft develops applications that dig through legacy data to help predict what business events might occur in the near future.

Aite Group, a Boston-based research firm for the financial services industry, estimates that companies will spend more than $1 billion on CEP-related software and services by 2010.

"I see this as a sign that the event-processing market is heating up and that IBM is determined to not miss the boat," Roy Schulte, an analyst at Gartner, told

"IBM has done event processing in the background for years, although it was not a first mover in terms of really promoting this field," Schulte said.

"Oracle, Tibco and numerous smaller event-processing specialists have been more visible in the market for several years," he added.

Carter said AptSoft's products will complement IBM's existing portfolio of BPM and CEP offerings, including WebSphere Event Broker, WebSphere Business Monitor, WebSphere Application Server, DB2 Real-Time Insight and Tivoli Netcool.

"This move has put IBM ahead of its largest competitors—Microsoft and SAP -- while also drawing attention to the products that IBM has quietly offered for a while," Schulte said. "Expect to hear more about event processing in 2008 from IBM and others."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. AptSoft currently has about 19 customers, including the likes of Georgia-Pacific and New Plan Excel Realty Trust.

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