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IBM Acquires Worklight to Expand Mobile Capabilities

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Signifying the ever-increasing importance of mobile to the enterprise, IBM Tuesday added another company to its arsenal with the acquisition of Worklight, which offers a mobile applications platform and tools for developing software for smartphones and tablets.

Big Blue did not disclose financial terms of the deal for the privately held Israeli company. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012.

“Our clients are under increased pressure to meet the growing demands of a workforce and customer base that now treat mobility as mission critical to their business,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM (NYSE:IBM) application and infrastructure middleware. “With the acquisition of Worklight, IBM is well positioned to help clients become smarter mobile enterprises reaching new markets.”

IBM plans to position Worklight in its IBM Software Group and said the acquisition means that IBM’s mobile offerings now span mobile application development, integration, security and management.

Worklight’s mobile application platform and tools are geared to helping organizations develop and deliver HTML5, hybrid and native applications. They include a mobile integrated development environment (IDE), mobile middleware, end-to-end security and integrated management and analytics. Worklight said its technology enables rich, cross-platform apps without requiring code translation, proprietary interpreters or unpopular programming languages.

Big Blue said the acquisition will improve its ability to help customers rein in the fragmented enterprise mobile landscape by giving them the ability to develop mobile applications and supporting infrastructure just once and deploy it to a variety of platforms—including Apple iOS and Google Android. IBM said this capability is becoming increasingly important as Bring Your Own Device, “BYOD,” increases in popularity. IT departments are seeking a way to enable employees’ secure use of mobile devices in the workplace without having to implement a separate infrastructure solely for mobile devices.

In a recent study of more than 3,000 global CIOs conducted by IBM, 75 percent of respondents pointed to mobility solutions as one of their top spending priorities.

Brian Marshall, IT hardware and data networking analyst with International Strategy & Investment Group (ISI), said ISI believes the acquisition is a strategic one for IBM as it gives Big Blue the full span of mobile application development, integration, security and management capability. He also lauded IBM’s expertise in building out its capabilities with acquistions.

“We believe IBM is among the best in large-cap technology at building high-value software capabilities through acquisition and has increased its efforts in recent months,” Marshall said, referring to recent IBM acquisitions. In the last six months, IBM has acquired risk management firm Algorithmics, security intelligence firm Q1 Labs, cluster and grid management software firm Platform Computing, cloud-based retail analytics firm DemandTec, supply chain analytics firm Emptoris and cloud-based software testing firm Green Hat.

IBM and Worklight already have a relationship as partners, and Worklight also has partnerships with numerous other technology companies, resellers and distributers, service providers, ISVs and OEMs as well, including Microsoft and RIM.

“In the last year, we have seen surging demand from enterprises for mobility solutions that will support the unique set of challenges introduced by new smartphone and tablet platforms,” said Shahar Kaminitz, chief executive officer and founder of Worklight. “Building on our existing partnership with IBM, the acquisition of Worklight further enhances IBM’s broad mobile portfolio. Now it will be easier than ever for our clients to offer secure and connected applications to their customers, business partners and employees.”

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals.

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