Open software move on ERP?

So, IBM will buy Ascential, presumably to fill out its software range, which has been missing a good ERP suite.
From a purely economic and technical viewpoint, this one does not make sense. IBM is a company which has as a strategy that they will do anything that creates value for the customer (which really isn’t a strategy according to Porter’s definiton, but IBM might be the only company in the enterprise space that still could make this claim and sound believable.) If the company sticks to anything, it is that they believe in open standards and modularism, as evidenced in their heavy support for Linux, Java, XML and other open standards.
Which begs the question – if your future direction is all about open standards, you really shouldn’t need to own companies and software like Ascential, you could just work with whatever comes down the pipeline and publishes to the right standards. You could have a partnership, recommend Ascential because your salesforcre knew it, but really let the customers decide.
So, I guess the interesting question is what IBM will do with Ascential’s stuff once they own it? Will they reengineer it to become thoroughly open standard and pull the same trick on SAP as they pulled on Microsoft (that is, make the software (which IBM can’t sell anyway) available for free and make their money on modifications, operation and perhaps added hardware sales?)
If that is in the offing, we can look forward to some really interesting years ahead, with competition heating up and utility computing perhaps really happening at last.

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