IBM is set to buy Canadian business management software vendor, Net Integration Technologies.

"We plan to use the technology to go after Microsoft in the small business server market," said Michael Rhodin, general manager at IBM's Lotus Software division. IBM could use the technology to compete with Microsoft's Windows Small Business Server, which provides collaboration, email and communication tools.

Founded in 1997, Net Integration Technologies' tools include NitixBlue server software, which the company offers bundled with IBM Lotus Notes client software. The company also builds custom hardware and the Nitix Operating System, which is based on Linux and bundles system management, networking, security and storage services.

When Lotus was acquired by IBM in 1995, it was a great channel company in touch with SMBs, Rhodin said. "Somewhere along the lines we lost touch with the roots," he said.

The Net Integration Technologies acquisition is also in line with IBM's process of realigning operations to better define and serve customers. The company recently restructured sales operations and is lining up offerings to match those changes, Rhodin said.