International Business Machines Corp is launching a major initiative to drive sales in the data security market, including $1.5 billion in spending next year on marketing and product development, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday in its online edition.

Representatives from IBM were not immediately available for comment.

Val Rahmani, a general manager in IBM's services unit, told the newspaper that sum is much more than we've ever spent.

IBM, led by Chief Executive Samuel Palmisano, has improved year-over-year profitability over the last 12 consecutive quarters as it spent more than $5 billion in 2006 on acquisitions, mainly for software companies in a drive to expand its most profitable business.