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IBM to provide software asset management suite

Combining newly acquired Isogon's asset management software with its own Tivoli, Big Blue is set to provide customers with a cross-platform software asset management suite.

After a long-standing partnership, IBM last week acquired New York-based Isogon Corp., a software maker that tracks and manages mainframe applications.

Isogon's offerings will become part of IBM's Tivoli infrastructure management software business.

By acquiring Isogon, which has been partners with IBM since 1997, Big Blue said it is now in line to provide a cross-platform software asset management suite by combining Isogon's asset management software for the zSeries with IBM's Tivoli software for distributed environments. IBM will provide customers with a planning tool that addresses how to manage inventory, contracts and costs associated with software.

IBM Tivoli marketing manager Kurt Johnson said offering a cross-platform software asset management solution will allow users to streamline their software expenditures, and subsequently take any savings and pour them into new projects, a must in an IT environment where funding has been sluggish.

"Customers have a had a challenge identifying what software is being used on their mainframe and their distributed platforms as business needs change and adjustments are made to software expenditures," Johnson said. "What the Isogon acquisition does is it enables them to know what that usage is on the mainframe. … This is something they weren't able to do before."

According to Laura Koetzle, Forrester Research's vice president and research director of computing infrastructures and security, IBM has made no secret of the fact that Isogon's SoftAudit tool -- the cornerstone of its software asset management suite -- was the driving force behind its decision to bring Isogon into the fold.

"It's the best tool on the market," Koetzle said. "They tried to duplicate it, but they couldn't. So they decided to buy it."

According to a recent study by IDC, overall spending on worldwide IT asset management will increase from $971 million in 2004 to $1.33 billion in 2009. IT research firm Gartner said enterprises using a software asset management system will save up to 30% per asset in the first year -- and by 5%-10% per asset in subsequent years.

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As the lone wolf in the mainframe space, Big Blue doesn't have to look over its shoulder at the competition, but it does have to make sure people still view zSeries platforms as relevant. Koetzle said Isogon's resources should help IBM do just that.

"This should help keep the mainframe more competitive, and help encourage customers on the 'z' not to try to migrate off the 'z'," Koetzle said. "They can use their mainframe more effectively and not pay for software they are not using."

A privately held company, Isogon has more than 200 customers, including Farmers Insurance Group, Boise Cascade, Sallie Mae and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Isogon was unavailable for comment, and terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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