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With the acquisition of Cast Iron Systems, IBM improves its cloud-based data integration capabilities. Cast Iron's OmniConnect is an application that enables users to tie their SaaS applications with their on-premise applications no matter where those applications are located.

Announcing the acquisition, IBM (news, site) said that the deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, would give IBM a better grasp of a market that it estimates will be worth US $125+ billion by 2012 by enhancing Big Blue’ abilities to provide hybrid cloud models using either private or public clouds.

Integration Possibilities

Once the acquisition has been completed, Cast Iron will be absorbed into IBM’s WebSphere business along with the integration templates in OmniConnect that will automate the mapping of user’s on-premise and SaaS applications.

The templates include a rich and deep set of maps and interconnect patterns that enables users to make the integrations with little or no coding requirements. The result is that its libraries pull together on-premise applications like Oracle’s PeopleSoft, JD Edwards with SaaS options like Salesforce.

There are three types of integrations that will make this particularly attractive to businesses with both cloud and on-premise deployments including user interface data and process integrations.

1. User Interface Mashups

Taking information from many different sources, Cast Iron’s OmniConnect can pull it all together and display it in the user interface of a cloud application.

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nGenera Knowledgebase data is mashed up by OmniConnect and displayed natively within salesforce.com 

As part of the new cloud integration platform announced in early March, it means that users will only have to use a single log-in to access all the data on a single screen in real-time.

2. Process Integration

OmniConnect’s process integration abilities enable users to apply processes across cloud and on-premise applications using connectivity, workflow and transformation features.

With it, data locked in multiple applications can be found and viewed, eliminating duplication entries.

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OmniConnect business process converts accounts in salesforce.com to customers in SAP in real-time.

3. Data Migration

Users can move data in legacy applications to SaaS applications in real-time. OmniConnect comes with data cleansing abilities so that the data can be transferred quickly and easily.

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Performing data quality checks to cleanse and then upload customer data from flat-files to salesforce.com.

IBM’s Cloud Strategy

As the ink is still drying on the deal, it is probably a little bit premature to expect a roadmap of how the integration of OmniConnect and IBM is going to be achieved and what to expect along the way. Although with a customer base as wide as IBMs it’s a given that new integration templates will also be on the cards.

The deal is just the latest move in IBM’s strategy of creating cloud opportunities for companies that are looking to go that route.

In April, for example, it announced its Global Entrepreneur initiative that is to provide start-ups with no-charge access to industry-specific technologies in a cloud computing environment.

In February it expanded its data storage capabilities with the opening of a new 100,000 sq feet data center in North Carolina to support new computing models, and in particular cloud computing. And in November it launched a pair of public and private services targeted at developers building cloud applications.

With that kind of support for cloud computing, acquisition by IBM probably won’t hurt Cast Iron too much especially as IBM has promised to support the technologies, customers and partnerships that Cast Iron has in place.

Current pricing for Cast Iron service for integration involving six or more enterprise end-points including SaaS and multiple on-premise applications starts at around US$ 4,500 per month. However as part of a wider IBM cloud strategy there are likely to be changes there.