When IBM completed its acquisition of Princeton Softech in September 2007, the picture seemed bright for such relatively niche applications as test data management, data growth management and archiving. Optim filled some gaps in IBM’s portfolio and promised to grow share of wallet in the IBM customer base. But there were awkward overlaps with products in the InfoSphere and Rational product lines, and some integration needed to be done.
Integrating new products in a massive portfolio like IBM’s is always a risk. And reaching for the broader goals sometimes has to wait while execution details like sales force training, pricing and distribution strategy, and engineering integration are looked after. Now the 2008 results are in, and IBM’s expertise in portfolio integration has been demonstrated again. with triple-digit growth in license revenue, double-digit growth in the number of transactions, and a reported expansion of Optim’s client base – 63% of the customers were new to the products. These numbers suggest that the flywheel has begun to turn: IBM is learning to sell the products and customers want them. With a sales force and channels that dwarf what Princeton Softech could deploy, IBM is already using its scale and reach to good advantage. IBM’s customers already rely on it for managing enterprise-class data problems, so Optim’s value propositions are not a stretch.
Optim products are aligned with challenges IBM customers face: cost reduction [with near term results preferred]; improved compliance; risk mitigation; and support for retiring applications come immediately to mind. These issues clearly connect business problems to IT architectural practices, and IBM has learned to couch the message in value terms, improving its ability to target budgets in conservative companies facing spending constraints.
IBM has already begun to articulate a vision that ties together the Optim products with existing assets in the InfoSphere data warehousing and Rational design product portfolios, managing the data lifecycle “from requirements to retirement.” The vision is of an underlying base of design information that captures policy, compliance and performance metadata for reuse throughout the cycle of data usage, eliminating bottlenecks and clumsy manual steps between stages, and dramatically improving the ability to monitor and manage compliance and policy issues. Some of these pieces are already in place; others are on the way. Expect to hear announcements at the Rational developer conference taking place in June that will clarify how IBM plans to fulfill these promises.