IBM's BuildForge buy to help developers comply

IBM's BuildForge buy to help developers comply

Looking for a better way to help corporate software developers meet compliance demands, IBM said Tuesday that it has acquired BuildForge.

IBM didn't reveal financial details about the purchase of BuildForge, a privately held specialist in application-development management software located in Austin, Texas.

BuildForge's FullControl software framework lets development teams integrate existing tools and automate, track, audit and analyze application development. As well as helping to boost collaboration and productivity, FullControl can help ensure that a corporation complies with internal and legal requirements for documenting the creation of new software.

As IBM continues to talk up its presence in the application life-cycle management market, the purchase of a leading player in the build and deployment space makes sense, according to Bola Rotibi, senior analyst with Ovum in London.

"Many developers don't like the build process and it takes a long time," she said. "It's a pain point for them." Trying to keep track of all the different components that go into an application and the different versions of those components can be highly complex, Rotibi added.

IBM will integrate BuildForge into its Rational application-development tools business. Already, over 80 percent of BuildForge's customers use IBM's Rational tools in their software development. BuildForge has over 65 customers in North America, including Visa International and technology players such as Adobe Systems, Avaya, Google and Symantec.

BuildForge is "a very natural complement" to what IBM customers are already using Rational for, according to Roger Oberg, vice president for Rational marketing and strategy at IBM. He pointed out that IBM didn't previously have its own build-management software, and that it was already a strong user of BuildForge's products internally for building software suites. IBM also intends to maintain BuildForge's "agnostic" approach, continuing support for non-IBM development tools as well as for Rational, Oberg added.

All of BuildForge's 41 staff have joined IBM, according to Oberg. "They will continue to focus exclusively on BuildForge for the time being," he said.

IBM acquired Rational three years ago for US$2.1 billion and positions Tuesday's purchase of BuildForge as proof of its ongoing investment and support of its middleware tools business. Rational is one of IBM's five key software brands -- the others are Lotus, Tivoli, WebSphere and DB2.

This is IBM's third acquisition designed to add more functionality into its Rational software, according to Oberg. IBM previously purchased structural analysis tool vendor Information Laboratory in July 2003 and Canadian project portfolio management vendor Systemcorp in October 2004.

In February, IBM announced plans to update its Rational tools later this year and into 2007 to improve their Web capabilities. At present, some of the Rational offerings still lack Web interfaces.

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