IBM purchase adds to content management expertise

IBM said Monday it will buy an Ottawa software company to help customers meet new records-keeping mandates prescribed by government.

Three-year-old Tarian Software,

which employs about 30 people, will become part of Big Blue’s content management business. Co-founder and CEO Bruce Miller said he has been working on the problem of e-records management for 13 years and has developed the vital code that was missing from IBM’s existing products.

“”We saw IBM as very much in the same boat as their competitors. They had the ability to create, transport and store documents, but . . . companies are under tremendous pressure to mitigate their risk and meet regulatory compliance,”” said Miller. “”In order to do (that), you have to have formal, structured records-keeping. We believe IBM had no real solution that was structured and geared towards meeting these regulations.””

Tarian’s software will become part of IBM’s Content Manager and integrated into database DB2, application server WebSphere and the company’s Lotus software. Tarian employees will move over to IBM and become part of the company’s Ottawa software lab, scheduled to open soon.

Customers had been asking for better records-keeping tools, according to Brett MacIntyre, vice-president of IBM’s content management business. Rules governing the maintenance of records have become more stringent in recent months, he said. The latest version of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which came into effect in October, was developed to ensure U.S. healthcare practices are systematically documented. Another example is the U.S. Sarbane-Oxley Act, which was signed into effect by President George W. Bush in July and is designed to protect investors by improving the accuracy of corporate financial disclosures.

Financial services companies will have to keep certain records on file for seven years, whereas others can be deleted immediately, said MacIntyre. They will also have to set parameters for storing instant message logs.

Miller said that most of Tarian’s focus has been on the U.S., but that Canada represents a “”strong but small market, mostly emerging out of the private sector — large manufacturers and oil and gas sectors. That’s where I see the future of e-records in Canada.””

Even industries that may not have to meet government requirements will be interested in the product, said MacIntyre, since they have to meet their own internal requirements for records-keeping.

Tarian software is built on open standards and is designed to operate with applications from various vendors. It is now part of IBM’s “”computing on demand”” initiative, which emphasizes interoperability within businesses and across supply chains. It was introduced last week by president and CEO Sam Palmisano.

Financial details about IBM’s purchase of Tarian were not disclosed, but the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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