It would be difficult to write anything about business intelligence this month without mentioning the IBM/Ascential deal. The deal illustrates customers' demand for more integration of the analytics and information management stack and the increasingly strategic role this infrastructure plays in the enterprise. The Ascential deal complements IBM's other recent acquisitions of Venetica, SRD and Alphablox, and represents clearly that end-to-end information management is at the heart of unified business intelligence.

Ascential's goal was to provide end-to-end data integration: from any source to any target, at any time, at any latency. Through a layer of complex meta data management Ascential was able to achieve this goal - arguably in spades (Informatica and Ab Initio might disagree). Ascential is now part of a company with an even broader vision of business intelligence and data integration. IBM, it seems, is determined to integrate the various layers of the business intelligence stack from database to data analysis and all the ETL, data quality and meta data translation layers in between. This most recent acquisition begs the question of what will customers demand next in terms of integration as they strive to better hear the voice of the customer and their market.

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