If IBM (newssite) has been busy on the acquisition front recently, it’s only a taste of things to come. Between now and 2015, according to CEO Sam Palmisano, Big Blue intends to spend a lot more -- about US$ 20 billion -- and double its profits over the same period.

Speaking at an investors meeting recently, Palmisano said that IBM's principal target would be to develop its software business across emerging markets which, he said, would account for 25% of its revenue by then, up from 20% in 2009.

If you think about IBM in 2015 it will be as dramatically different as IBM is today versus 2003. More and more of our profit will come out of these higher value segments,” he said.

IBM’s Acquisition Trail

That Palmisano intends to keep spending is not really surprising and is in keeping with his behaviour since he took over at IBM in 2002. Since then he has spent US $14 billion on 70 new companies particularly in the business analytics and optimization spaces.

IBM is also expected to spend in the middleware category, information management, information integration and business process management spaces. Only recently it announced the acquisition of Cast Iron, a deal that is expected to close later in the year which will enhance its cloud-based data integration capabilities.

In March, it announced the closure of two acquisition deals made in January and February with National Interest Security Company (NISC) and Initiate respectively that will expand its business analytics abilities in the public sector arena and healthcare.

NISC which is based in Virgina, specializes in providing information management and analytics to the public sector, particularly the defence, security and energy sectors, and is being integrated into IBM’s Global Business Services.

Initiate specializes in data integrity and master data management technologies particularly in healthcare and government and enables users to share information across multiple systems to improve the services they provide to patients, citizens and customers.

And in December it acquired Guardium, which provides audits, real-time monitoring and tracking of database trails and discovery tools.

More Companies, More Acquisitions

However, IBM is not the only company on the acquisition trail. Hewlett-Packard (news, site) recently spent US$ 2.7 billion on 3Com, and a further US $13.2 billion on services provider Electronic Data Services.

Oracle (news, site) has also been busy buying. The acquisition of Sun finally closed earlier this year at an estimated price of US $7.4 billion, while last month it also bought  Phase Forward for the slightly more modest price of US $700 million. Xerox (news, site) also moved into the business services sector with the acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services Inc for US$ 5.5 billion.