IBM to buy Softek

By Kevin Komiega

—IBM announced today it has signed an agreement to acquire long-time technology partner and data mobility specialist Softek for an undisclosed sum. Once the deal is done, which will be some time within the next few months, IBM will offer Softek's technology in several ways, all of them services-oriented.

Softek will become part of the Storage and Data Services business unit in IBM Global Technology Services. IBM plans to integrate Softek's data mobility technology, best practices, and personnel into Big Blue's own storage and data services.

The crown jewel of the Softek product portfolio is its Transparent Data Migration Facility (TDMF) solution, which enables non-disruptive movement and management of data across heterogeneous storage platforms and operating system environments. The Softek solution can move data while keeping data online and applications available for end users.

Softek TDMF migrates data globally and locally at the block and volume level in both mainframe and open systems environments without disruption. The process is mainly targeted at customers looking to perform storage or server upgrades and consolidating or relocating data centers.

Softek also offers a number of other data mobility products, including the Softek Logical Data Migration Facility (LDMF), which migrates data sets at the volume level in mainframe environments, Softek Replicator, an asynchronous replication tool that copies block and volume data over any distance without disruption, and Softek DR Manager (DRM), which automates, validates, and speeds up recovery to satisfy business continuity and audit requirements in the mainframe environment.

Furthermore, IBM will now own Softek's offering upon the altar of Storage Resource Management (SRM) software, the Softek Storage Manager, or SSM. SSM monitors and forecasts capacity trends and utilization rates to aid in the migration planning process.

Softek joins a number of other vendors recently acquired by IBM as the company continues to build out its services portfolio. Other recent IBM buys include Internet Security Systems, MRO Software, and FileNet.

IBM will sell Softek's solutions as either a stand-alone technology license, a project-based service, or as a subscription-based managed service to its customers. As always, how end users take advantage of the IBM migration menu will depend on their business requirements.

"Smaller companies will probably opt for the one-off engagement because the need for that type of data migration may not occur all that often," says John Webster, principal IT advisor and senior analyst, Illuminata. "[On the other hand,] the Fortune 500 companies may subscribe to a managed services offering because data migration is a more frequent occurrence or they may buy the license and do it themselves because they have the staff."

Softek made its bones by building an extensive roster of solutions partners, of which there are many. Many companies deploy Softek's Nonstop Data Mobility solutions as part of their professional services and solutions offerings. Several other vendors serve as original storage manufacturers or systems integrators by taking Softek's products to market through sales or services organizations.

The partners include Abtech Systems, Accenture, Adexis Cranel, Advanced Financial Solutions (AFS), Advanced Technology Solutions, Brocade, Comparex, CSC, CSS Nordic AB, EMC, Forsythe, Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, IMS Systems, Lewan & Associates, Mainline Information Systems, Marketex, McData, Microsoft, MSI, Northrop Grumman, Oracle, Sandpiper Data Systems, Savail, Selesta, Siemens Business Services, Sirius, Sun, Teksys, Veritas (Symantec), and ViON.

"The way [Softek] enables its capabilities is by working with multi-vendor interfaces. We anticipate having those relationships going forward, including the relationship with Veritas, which can sometimes be cooperative competition," says Steven Murphy, currently president and chief executive officer of Softek and soon-to-be vice president of data mobility solutions for IBM.

"We have shipped over 10,000 software licenses and we have over 800 renewable maintenance contracts. I have been talking on the phone with our channel partners domestically and internationally and they are looking forward to [the deal]. We are encouraging them all to recommit," Murphy says.

Paul Fried, vice president, storage and data services, IBM Global Technology Services, says IBM itself is committed to maintaining and growing the relationships Softek is bringing into the fold.

"We fully intend to extend these capabilities to our business partners that are within IBM PartnerWorld," says Fried. "We want to embrace the partner community and we want to drive bigger, stronger relationships."

This article was originally published on January 29, 2007