IBM Buys Worklight

Part of Blue's $20-Billion M&A Objective for 2011-15

IBM is buying a privately held 12-year-old Israeli outfit called Worklight for its write-once-run-anywhere application platform and tools for smartphones and tablets.

The price IBM is paying wasn't disclosed.

Worklight's widgetry, which can be used to create and run HTML5, hybrid and native apps, is supposed to put new and existing consumer and employee-facing apps on multiple mobile devices - including iPhones, Blackberries and Androids - and then securely connect them to a company's data center.

It includes an IDE, middleware, management and analytics and is supposed to reduce time to market, cost and complexity.

The apparently key acquisition is expected to close this quarter and be part of IBM's Software Group.

IBM said Worklight supports applications in industries such as financial services, retail and healthcare, its kind of meat. For example, it said, a bank can create a single application whose features enable customers to securely connect to their account, pay bills and manage their investments, regardless of the device they are using. A hospital could use Worklight technology to extend its existing IT system so patients can directly input their health history, allergies and prescriptions using a tablet.

Worklight customers include Best Western and AT&T.

IBM's announcement noted that smartphone shipments last year exceeded PCs and acknowledged the widgets as mission-critical. More important, customers have made mobile solutions a top spending priority.

So Blue is promising a complete portfolio of the software and services companies need to bring mobile devices into their infrastructure, pointing out that the world's top 20 communications service providers use IBM technology to run their applications, while every day more than a billion mobile phone subscribers are touched by IBM software.

The acquisition is part of IBM's stated objective to spend $20 billion on M&A between 2011 and 2015. Organic growth in a company IBM's size is a tough row to hoe.

Worklight is the second acquisition of the new month-old Ginni Rometty administration. The first was Green Hat in mid-January.

IBM also unveiled IBM Endpoint Manager for Mobile Devices, a new software system derived from its Big Fix acquisition that will let corporate users manage and secure multiple mobile devices including laptops.

Worklight is headquartered in New York with R&D in Israel.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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