IBM has a kind of eating disorder. The company can't stop its acquisition binge. Today, IBM bought Internet Security Systems (ISS) for $1.3 billion, shortly after ingesting FileNet, MRO Software and Webify. Like Oracle, EMC and others, IBM is gorging on the smaller, but primary players in spaces adjacent to its core middleware.
The total IBM spend for August, if the deals consummate will be around $3.6 billion. According to Val Rahmani, general manager of infrastructure management services at IBM Global Services, IBM will "continue to drive growth in areas of opportunity and drive solutions that meet the business needs of clients." Behind that marketing speak is the need for IBM to get more dollars per client, across Global Services and high-margin software as part of its overall SOA everywhere strategy.
Tom Noonan, CEO of ISS describes his product portfolio as an "integrated security platform that is adaptable and extensible to address new threats and business requirements without incremental complexity and cost...the foundation for delivering security as a service."
IBM wants to deliver IT infrastructure as a service, a set of plug and play components with interfaces to various parts of the stack and other services that can be delivered hosted or on-premises, with its mixed of proprietary and open source software and consulting services.
Sun is going after the same planetary scale "utility computing" opportunity, but more purely open source, and HP is in this game as well but less well endowed with software. Longer term, you could even include Google and companies that haven't even been born yet, as having the potential to provide a broad set of services to power enterprises, with low cost of capital outlay, minimal personnel to staff datacenters and eco-friendly power consumption.
At an application level, Salesforce.com, SAP NetWeaver and Oracle Fusion, for example, are trying to fuse applications and core middleware infrastructure into platforms. Will IBM move up the stack into applications--not to packaged applications, but to loosely coupled, pre-built components for CRM or other tasks or business processes that can be easily assembled and integrated to solve specific problems? It seems inevitable...