I was not surprised by the announcement Monday that IBM was purchasing Cast Iron, a longtime integration appliance and on-demand integration provider. Actually, I was going to have some guys from Cast Iron on my podcast Friday, but they politely delayed. Now I know why.
I see the reason behind the purchase. Cast Iron has been providing an application integration appliance since earlier this decade before it began to focus on the emerging SaaS space, offering one of the first out-of-the-box integration solutions for Salesforce.com and Oracle CRM. After some leadership changes, it recently moved into the integration-on-demand space, dispensing core integration services out of the cloud.
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The acquisition of Cast Iron fills some holes that IBM has had in its integration stack, and IBM loves to buy rather than build sought-after features and functions. Indeed, IBM's software division has made 55-plus acquisitions since 2003, and I suspect that Cast Iron is going to be one of a few more that occur this summer -- perhaps including another middleware vendor.
Cast Iron is really a second-generation application integration technology vendor following the likes of Saga Software (yours truly was the CTO), WebMethods (now a part of Software AG), SeeBeyond (now a part of Sun, which is now a part of Oracle), and Mercator (now part of IBM; yours truly again has been the CTO). Cast Iron was trying to present a much simplified integration engine delivered as an appliance, thus providing a "drop and go"-type deployment. While not perfect at first, continual refinement led to better integration technology and to localization for specific problem domains such as Salesforce.com-to-enterprise integration, out of the box.