IBM buys Toronto firm for autonomic assets

IBM Wednesday announced the acquisition of Toronto firm Think Dynamics in an effort to expand provisioning software in its on-demand computing portfolio.

Think Dynamics software is designed to allocate IT resources based on need.

It will, for example, automatically balance workloads between servers or add a new server to the pool. The company will become part of IBM’s software division Tivoli. Terms of the deal were not released.

“”Customers . . . want processes to be flexible and you also want them to be automated such that you don’t have a lot of human intervention every single time something changes in your environment,”” said Tivoli general manager Robert LeBlanc during a teleconference. “”This notion of dynamic sense and response, we think, is very important. Think Dynamics brings a very good set of capabilities to help us with that policy-based orchestration.””

Think Dynamics was started about two and a half years ago by a Toronto venture capital firm Brightspark to help manage the IT of its portfolio companies. “”We thought, perhaps there’s some good opportunities to automate the data centre,”” said Brightspark managing partner Mark Skapinker. “”We put some people on it, threw a bunch of money at it and they started investigating the area.””

Brightspark raised additional capital for Think Dynamics and drew some interest from IBM about a year ago to help resell the software. “”After probably four or five months of discussing a reseller agreement, IBM came to us and said, ‘This technology is too strategic for us to deal with as a reseller, we’d like to acquire the whole company.'””

Think Dynamics software will be rebranded and repackaged under the Tivoli name, but will also become part of IBM’s other businesses. The software is modular and based on standards like J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), so the transition should be swift, said LeBlanc. “”This really is an aquisition that affects all of the IBM units from software to hardware to services and we’re really going to manage it in that fashion,”” he added.

Think Dynamics’ 36 employees will be moving into IBM’s Toronto Software Lab and will contribute to Big Blue’s on-demand initiative, which was first introduced by CEO Sam Palmisano about six months ago. Its goals are to encourage interoperability, open standards and self-healing or “”autonomic”” hardware and software. Big Blue brought those goals into sharper focus last month during its annual DevelopWorks Live conference in New Orleans.

Including the Think Dynamics team, a total of 100 employees will be added to the Toronto Lab to work for Tivoli on on-demand solutions.

“”The work that the Think Dynamics team does and the work that emerged from it is a natural fit with the kinds of work that we’re doing with DB2 data management and WebSphere,”” said Toronto Lab director Hershel Harris. “”(From) the team’s point of view, it gives tremendous flexibility to the kind of work they can do — not just data management or WebSphere but work on the on-demand initiatives through automated provisioning.””

The only Think Dynamics employee who won’t be making the move to Tivoli is its CEO Alan McMillan. “”Sam (Palmisano) is happy in his job,”” he joked. “”I’ll be supporting the transition for the next couple of months and going from there.””

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