Blog post

IBM Acquires Sterling Commerce — And Ups the Ante on B2B

By Benoit Lheureux | May 24, 2010 | 2 Comments

SaaS IntegrationMultienterprise ApplicationsIntegrationIBMIaaSEDIEcommerceCloud Services IntegrationBusiness Process NetworksB2B

Just on the heals of IBM acquiring Cast Iron Systems a few weeks ago, today IBM announced that it is acquiring Sterling Commerce for $1.4b in cash. Adding to other recent events such as GXS acquiring Inovis this once again ups the ante on B2B.

Gartner’s formal consolidated response to the Cast Iron acquisition will likely publish by end-of-day tomorrow.

We’re already working on a consolidated response to this acquisition as well, but shooting from the hip here’s a few initial reactions:

  • Acquired by IBM WebSphere group, along with Cast Iron, Lombardi, etc. — they’re decisively assembling a lotta B2B horsepower
  • The WebSphere group now has even *more* integration software — hey, has anyone seen my software roadmap GPS?
  • Sterling Collaborative Network + Cast Iron Cloud == A viable integration as a service offering for both traditional ecommerce & Cloud services
  • The WebSphere group now has a bunch of Apps — some inherently multi-enterprise Apps — that’s a lot *on top* of application infrastructure
  • IBM has pitched this acquisition in the context of “Dynamic Business Networks” — more expansive, but builds upon business process networks

From an industry impact think about other IT mega-vendors and think about other ‘pure-play’ B2B vendors … what impact might this acquisition have on SAP’s alliance with Crossgate or Oracle’s alliance with E2open, etc.?

I’ve said it before and its worth saying again — these are interesting times in B2B! 🙂


– bjl

Comments are closed


  • Andrew says:

    This is much more meaningful than the GXS deal with Inovis. This is a mega vendor taking out a major B2B vendors. Why didn’t AT&T “get it”? Does this mean that IBM has a chance to limit Oracle and SAP’s ability to get into B2B at a serious level? I don’t mean the transaction; I mean the multienterprise business processes…

  • Sterling has languished under AT&T, and the entire Gentran mapping and file translation ‘mafia’, is on its way out. They have a good book, and IBM will do its best to assimilate the good bits, but the WebSphere division will have a hard time with the two different philosophies of how trading partners interconnect.

    The Web Sphere division has killed its fair share of acquisitions. I wonder if getting out from under a Common Carrier’s Shadow will give Sterling more elbow room, or if IBM will divest the EDI Communications end of the business, ???

    The last thing they care about is the arcane VAN business, and Web Sphere has always managed closed networks of trading partners, occasional awkward FTP and AS2 hubs, and VAN connections, i’ll bet that Sterling and IBM are sitting around a bucket of fried chicken right now deciding if the VAN business is too much trouble.

    I implore my IBM colleagues to sing the EDI guy song with me