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October 13, 2010

IBM Acquires PSS Systems

The lines between compliance and e-discovery are drawing closer. New York’s IBM has acquired California-based PSS Systems.

PSS Systems develops Atlas, an information governance suite that helps users analyze and assess risks in maintaining data and formulate policies and automate workflows to dispose of excess data. According to Ron Ercanbrack, vice president of enterprise content management at IBM, Atlas is a "logical complement" to other IBM products like Content Collector and eDiscovery Analyzer and Manager.

"With the acquisition of PSS Systems, we are able to expand our portfolio with a broader set of legal solutions that for the first time link corporate legal hold policies to the reality of how information is managed and disposed of," explains Ercanbrack.

Although PSS Systems will be subsumed by IBM, the company will continue to operate out of Mountain View, Calif., says Ercanbrack. In the short term, the Atlas brand will remain and may persist, like FileNet. PSS Systems software will become industry-specific offerings under IBM’s new solutions software division. The acquisition will help open the door to the corporate legal office for IBM, says Ercanbrack. From there, IBM can tie in other software offerings applicable to the company's line of business.

Rani Hublou, of PSS Systems, says that IBM and PSS Systems are no strangers in the legal field. Prior to the acquisition, PSS Systems developed the Atlas Compliance Automation connector for IBM's eDiscovery Manager. According to Hublou, the acquisition weds Atlas’ strengths in formulating policy to assess and address the risk and cost of data management and IBM’s ability to execute the policy to dispose of excess data on IBM content management systems.

Under the acquisition, IBM expands its suite of Information Lifecycle Governance services including content assessment, collection, archiving, imaging, advanced classification, records management, e-discovery search and analytics, and IBM's storage management and Smart Archive strategy.

During collection, corporations must look at their challenges for culling and protecting evidence in litigation and address how e-mail and records are managed -- creating a symbiotic relationship between the legal, retention, and IT departments. According to Deidre Paknad, CEO of PSS Systems, the acquisition helps legal departments connect those dots rather than speak with ten vendors.

"Together, IBM and PSS Systems can help business mitigate legal risk and reduce costs with routine information disposal," says Paknad. "Poor visibility and ad hoc controls cause companies to over-retain information and significantly overspend on information management, litigation, and e-discovery."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

-- Heather Schultz, LTN assistant editor (assist: Sean Doherty, LTN technology editor)

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