Blog post

IBM acquires Cast Iron — its about Cloud Services Integration, not appliances

By Benoit Lheureux | May 03, 2010 | 0 Comments

Today IBM announced its acquiring Cast Iron Systems.

My colleagues and I have followed Cast Iron for nearly a decade and have watched it evolve in the last few years from its roots (and enduring legacy) in appliance-based integration appliances into a prominent provider of Cloud services integration. For several years now it has delivered integration functionality to knit Cloud services together or with on-premise applications using a hybrid combination of appliances, software and integration as a service (IaaS). On this blog I recently posted how my colleagues and I have been publishing research on Cast Iron and other providers of solutions for Cloud services integration — this market is growing rapidly and within a few weeks Gartner will soon publish a detailed five-year forecast on this interesting market segment.

We’ll publish formal research on this acquisition shortly but its worth nothing here that IBM has been notably absent in the Cloud services integration space. In fact, it hasn’t had much in the way of IaaS ever since it sold its IBM VAN to GXS in 2004. The acquisition of Viacore in 2006 gave IBM an IaaS platform, but that has been used primarily for traditional supply chain integration required for IT projects implemented by IBM’s BPO group. (links to these archived bits of research — subscription required — available here.) The Cast Iron acquisition gives IBM a general-purpose solution to Cloud-centric integration projects.

I’m meeting with IBM and Cast Iron later today to learn more directly from them about the acquisition and IBM’s intended use of Cast Iron and its solutions, but I am pretty certain that this is a Cloud services integration play — not an appliance play. Many still believe that Cast Iron is still largely an appliance vendor but in fact its hybrid approach is proven, and for years now it has focused on Cloud services integration, selling into a diverse  channel of Cloud services scenarios. IBM already has very capable appliances for integration (e.g. Datapower), but it didn’t have a solution specifically focused on how to knit Cloud services (including Cloud connectors for Salesforce.com and many other sites) to on-premise systems (including Apps, WebSphere, mainframes, etc.). IBM and its customers will now benefit from a focused solution on knitting all these things together.

So — a pure-play provider of Cloud services integration is taken out of circulation and an IT mega-vendor re-jumps into the IaaS market. As I’ve been saying, these are interesting times for B2B, indeed!

– bjl

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