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Ascential completes Mercator acquisition

Ascential recently completed its acquisition of Mercator. What does this mean for Ascential? What does it mean for the existing Mercator product and its users? And what does it mean for partners of Mercator? Learn more in this column from IT-Director.com, by Phil Howard.


Market Analysis

Ascential completes Mercator acquisition
Ascential recently completed its acquisition of Mercator. What does this mean for Ascential? What does it mean for the existing Mercator product and its users? And what does it mean for partners of Mercator?

First, it will be as well to briefly describe what Mercator can do. Put simply, the product has historically played in the EAI space but, unlike other such offerings, it is independent of the message bus. It has been able to do this because it works at a finer level of detail than other products and has the ability to both understand and validate messages. For example, Mercator has specific capabilities for supporting both SWIFT and CREST messages. These tend to change on a regular basis but users of Mercator can leave this up to the software and not have to worry about those changes themselves.

The biggest and most important of the questions posed by this acquisition is therefore whether this means that Ascential will now be playing in the EAI space? The answer, as far as the company is concerned, is a definite "no". It regards its task as "providing data (my emphasis) integration with any degree of latency" and Mercator simply provides this ability with zero or near-zero latency as a complementary facility to the real-time capabilities already offered by DataStage.

There will, of course, have to be some development work to bring Mercator in line with the rest of the Ascential product suite. I understand that it will be re-named DataStage TX but more to the point it will need to have its user interface re-engineered to fit in with the rest of the suite, and the company will want to develop a meta-broker, so that it can integrate at the back-end as well as look and feel the same.

Of course, Mercator was a big partner of SAP's, as is Ascential, and this is no doubt a part of the reason why Ascential was interested in the first place. Indeed, of Mercator's 1,100 customers around 300 of these are shared users, so there is evidently a significant degree of synergy already in place.

There remains the issue of what effect this will have on existing technology partners of Mercator. For example, BEA is or was a major partner. But Ascential has a strong relationship with IBM. In fact, this is likely to be less of a problem than it might appear. Companies are usually fairly pragmatic about such things, except where they are in direct competition.

Finally, note that I haven't asked the one question that is most prevalent about takeovers: how will Ascential handle the merger? I think Ascential, and Ardent before it (the company is more ex-Ardent than ex-Informix), has demonstrated its expertise at handling acquisitions over a number of years. That's one point I don't have any worries about.


Copyright 2003. Originally published by IT-Director.com, reprinted with permission. IT-Director.com provides IT decision makers with free daily e-mails containing news analysis, member-only discussion forums, free research, technology spotlights and free on-line consultancy. To register for a free e-mail subscription, click here.

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