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IBM Jan. 29 said it has agreed to acquire privately held Softek Storage Solutions, of Vienna, Va., to bolster the offerings within its Global Technology Services group. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Softek, a host-based data migration software provider founded in April 2000 as a subsidiary of the former Amdahl, provides software and services that enable enterprises to move any amount of data from one location to another outside the application layer and across any storage platform or distance, thus improving speed and quality of the delivery, the company said.

The acquisition of Softek follows a spate of recent IBM acquisitions, including Internet Security Systems, MRO Software and FileNet.

Softek gives IBM’s services business a functionality it had sought for some time in order to continue to compete with EMC, the world leader in data-storage market share. Softek sells installable software and also provides one-time-only or regular subscription services for handling data movement, depending upon the needs of the customer.

“This helps us to make sure that we have all the tools we need to do all those [data migration] pieces,” Charlie Andrews, director of system storage marketing for IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., told eWEEK.

“The biggest advantage is that a customer can move any amount of data, depending upon channels’ speeds, from one place to another in a non-disruptive manner. The company’s applications have no knowledge of the data transfer, no apps need to be taken down or restarted, and the company’s work continues 24/7 as if nothing happened,” Andrews said.

Read more here about IBM’s competition with EMC in the storage space.

Specifically, Softek gives IBM a new software weapon as it takes on EMC in the storage wars: the TDMF (Transparent Data Migration Facility). This patented software provides a simple, unified approach to the movement and management of data across storage vendor platforms and operating system environments, as part of any infrastructure change, the company said.

Not only are Softek’s products well-designed, but the company’s rigorous approach has resulted in it becoming a respected partner of virtually every major enterprise storage and service vendor, said analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.

“Softek’s acquisition by IBM qualifies as a simple, classic acquisition where a smaller company is bought by a larger company because the match is right,” King said. “Softek has a good product, a good customer base, and a good reputation. The company’s TDMF product is a good bread-and-butter solution that has a very good fit within IBM’s product line; after all, who knows mainframes better than IBM?”

Click here to read an eWEEK Labs review of Softek’s Storage Manager 2.5.

Softek’s problem was not so much a lack of the right distribution channels, a challenge faced by many smaller companies, King said. Instead, while the company continued to advance its products in the evolutionary sense, it lacked the resources it needed to offer completely new products.

The acquisition of Softek is the latest example of IBM’s continuing strategy to blend labor-intensive software, hardware and research into higher-margin, standardized services that can be used by multiple clients to help them transform their businesses.

“The key thing, of course, is the agnostic quality of Softek’s product,” Rhoda Phillips, a storage analyst at IDC, told eWEEK. “This fills a key need for IBM. However, they still have to think about a couple of other things now: replication and deduplication.”

Softek’s clients include BT Group, KeyCorp, Lufthansa, Principal Financial Services and more than half of the Fortune 1000 companies. IBM has been a Softek global partner since 1996, and has used Softek’s award-winning products to migrate data on thousands of services engagements worldwide. In addition to IBM, Softek has a strong global network of partners, distributors and resellers.

“Clients are looking for greater flexibility and choice when selecting solutions that can reduce the risk and complexity associated with managing and moving data regardless of distance or vendor,” said Steven Murphy, president and CEO of Softek. “Our market-leading TDMF solution is trusted by many of the world’s top companies to move data non-disruptively.”

The transaction is anticipated to close during the first quarter of the 2007 calendar year.

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