Last week, IBM announced it has agreed to purchase Candle for an unspecified sum, pending regulatory approval, which is expected in the second quarter of this year.Candle will become a part of IBM\u2019s software group under Robert LeBlanc, general manager of Tivoli, and the Candle brand will be overlaid on top of existing IBM brands including Tivoli, Rational, WebSphere, and DB2.The addition of Candle to the IBM family makes a tremendous amount of sense, and will be a net win for customers of both companies. In fact, these customers are the same - nearly 100% of Candle\u2019s customers are also IBM customers. The combination could mean better deals for Candle customers, who may be able to integrate their Candle licenses with existing IBM agreements.\u00a0In addition to significantly bolstering IBM\u2019s management and development offerings with products like OMEGAMON and PathWAI, Candle\u2019s products will also help IBM fulfill its \u201cOn Demand\u201d vision. In case you\u2019ve been asleep for the past couple of years, IBM has been promoting On Demand Computing as a key way for IT to rapidly adapt to changing business conditions, ensuring the performance and availability of business-critical systems while increasing IT productivity and driving down costs. IBM envisions this occurring through the seamless integration of business processes with the IT infrastructure that supports them, which can only happen through the convergence of key management technologies, including automation, provisioning, security, policies, and traditional management systems.Candle\u2019s products are a significant addition to IBM\u2019s On Demand vision. Candle\u2019s automation products, which work on mainframe and distributed systems alike, will play a key role in carrying out the tasks that are necessary for a truly on-demand data center to work, such as provisioning and de-provisioning of resources in a unified way based on business policies.Candle\u2019s monitoring technologies will also play a key role in IBM\u2019s autonomic initiatives, in which systems are able to rapidly and automatically take action in order to ensure optimal performance. IBM\u2019s Autonomic Manager, for example, depends on many external \u201csensors\u201d which feed it real-time data that it uses to direct activities on managed devices through a closed-loop combination of management data and policy. Think of autonomics in the context of human biology - the brain, which directs elements such as the heart to pump at a given rate, would be incapable of doing so without feeds from a tremendous number of sensors (nerves) that report the current state of virtually every system in the human body. Products like OMEGAMON will serve as the sensors for IBM\u2019s autonomic engine, and IBM needs as many of these as it can get.Another key aspect of an autonomic system is the ability for closed-loop command and control. What this means is that once the autonomic manager determines an action to take, there have to be technologies that enable the changes to happen, and the system then has to be able to monitor the impact of those changes. Candle\u2019s automation products, including AF\/Operator and AF\/Integrated Resource Manager, combined with OMEGAMON, provide this needed functionality on both mainframe and distributed systems.In summary, I am very bullish on the addition of Candle to IBM, and I feel it will be both a short-term and a long-term win for IBM\u2019s customers. I am sure that a number of Candle employees are celebrating, as the liquidity event that they have been long waiting for (some since 1976) looks like it is finally going to occur.One way or another, with all of the consolidation that is happening in the industry, 2004 is certainly going to be an interesting year.