The software's workload is distributed over all devices under management, and a special query language BigFix developed minimizes performance hits to the machines under management, according to its website.
IBM's move ups the competitive stakes between itself and the industry's other big players in data center automation: Hewlett-Packard, BMC, and CA Technologies.
Although IBM's Tivoli IT management software line is already sizable, BigFix's technology should still be additive, according to one observer.
"Nowadays, IBM can have surprising holes in its portfolio when it comes to desktop management and automation," said Redmonk analyst Michael Coté. "While there's plenty of monitoring, asset management, and so on, Tivoli can always use more of this type of thing, rather than partnering to get it."
"The kind of 'model your desired and compliant configuration and then enforce it' stuff that BigFix does aligns well with existing Tivoli customers," Coté added. In addition, "the scale at which BigFix can run matches the scale of IT that Tivoli looks to manage," he said.
Privately held BigFix has roughly 200 employees and more than 700 customers. It will be rolled into IBM's Software Group.
IBM is expected to discuss the acquisition further during a conference call Thursday.