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IBM Plans Major Security Initiative

IBM Corp. plans to announce Thursday that it will boost what it spends developing computer security products to $1.5 billion in 2008, reflecting an intensifying focus for the company.

IBM executives would not say how much they used to spend. But analyst Charles King of Pund-IT Research said he believes $1.5 billion would be twice what IBM traditionally spends on security research and product development each year.

The figure is separate from IBM's spending on acquisitions that bring in new technology. In the past year IBM has bought several security companies, including Internet Security Systems Inc. for $1.3 billion and Watchfire Corp. for at least $100 million.

Now IBM says it is integrating technologies from its acquisitions with security software and services developed in house. It expects to offer broader security packages so customers can reduce the number of providers they hire to protect their data.

"We believe there's a crisis in the marketplace right now," said Val Rahmani, who heads IBM's infrastructure management services.

Even with this sharper focus, IBM will encounter tough competition from security specialists and other information-technology vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and EMC Corp., which have also been spending heavily to bolster their offerings.

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