By Ann Silverthorn
—Last week, EMC announced its purchase of Little Rock, AR-based Acxiom's information and grid software for $30 million. Acxiom developed the software for its own business operations—hosted data hygiene, cleansing, and manipulation services for major companies that want to mine and analyze their own customer databases. As part of the agreement, EMC will lease the software back to Acxiom as the latter continues to offer its hosted services.
For the next two years, EMC will combine Acxiom's intellectual property with its own systems and software to build a customer-site-located solution instead of a hosted model. EMC and Acxiom will jointly market the hosted Acxiom solution until the customer-site-located solution is generally available. When fully developed, the new platform will be jointly marketed and sold by the two companies.
Regarding the history of Acxiom's information and grid software, Ian Baird, CTO of grid and utility computing for EMC, says Acxiom's growing customer data integration services weren't scaling well on traditional IT architectures. "It was costly to keep adding bigger iron," says Baird. So, over the past four years, Acxiom built its own grid infrastructure that allows for a distributed scale-out dynamic infrastructure to deliver the IT requirements needed by its business operations.
Using grid technology, Acxiom was able to improve utilization of resources in its compute environment, streamline information access and workflow, and optimize distributed information access. Acxiom will continue to have access to the grid technology it developed—plus the improvements that EMC makes to it.
"We're not acquiring anything that affects Acxiom's business today," Baird explains. Acxiom doesn't sell software. They are monetizing an investment in R&D to optimize their own IT environment. We'll commercialize their information and grid software."
This move affords EMC a stronger position against vendors such as IBM and Sun that have already made moves into grid computing, says Baird. "EMC has not made a lot of noise about grids, but has been working behind the scenes in the grid space. Storage subsystems data and the infrastructure elements that go into a grid are already in the domain of EMC. By acquiring this technology, EMC will have a better grasp of both the information lifecycle management (ILM) and the resource management that is required to manage and deliver an optimal information infrastructure."