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(Read Write Web) — IBM is buying Sterling Commerce for $1.4 billion. It is IBM’s largest acquisition since purchasing Cognos in 1987 for $922 million. The acquisition of the AT&T company is intended to complement IBM’s middleware portfolio and help customers develop more intelligent business networks. Gartner believes the acquisition is a complement to IBM’s acquisition of Cast Iron Systems a few weeks ago. The transaction environment is undergoing rapid change as customers increasingly make purchases online and through electronic systems via any number of indirect channels. IBM’s expectation is that Sterling Commerce will simplify the way organizations connect and communicate with partners, customers and suppliers through an on-premise infrastructure or cloud delivery model.

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