Clouds merging

The period spanning December 2008 and January 2009 was a peculiar time in the IT mergers and acquisitions market.

One deal dominated the M&A headlines: enterprise search software provider Autonomy’s agreed takeover of content management software vendor Interwoven for $775 million. Not only was it a rare example of a UK company acquiring in the US, but at a price three times Interwoven’s annual revenues, it was unusually generous for the current climate (See Company Analysis).

Also unexpected was an appearance on the acquirer’s list by Sun Microsystems, still reeling from a disastrous final quarter of 2008. Nonetheless, the company’s acquisition of Belgian cloud computing technology provider Q-Layer was  mostly acknowledged by analysts as a smart move.

Q-Layer’s tools allows hosting providers to offer their customers ‘virtual private data centres’, a virtual environment in which the end user can provision virtual servers, storage and networks through a web browser. The system uses what Q-Layer describes as a ‘data centre abstraction layer’ to provision these virtual resources quickly and easily.

The acquisition lends credibility – and innovative technology – to Sun’s pledge to reboot its cloud computing strategy, while the cost was described as ‘not material’.
Sun retired its utility computing service in December. That initiative is now described by Dave Douglas, senior vice president of Sun’s newly created cloud division, as “kind of an early attempt at cloud computing. We got some features right and some not right.”

Open to suggestions

Meanwhile, storage giant EMC’s decision to acquire some of the assets of SourceLabs, which provides a range of support tools and services for open source software, and to hire some of its staff, had observers scratching their heads.

Since its launch in 2004, Seattle-based SourceLabs has managed to attract some enterprise clients, including Merrill Lynch, but the relevance for EMC was not immediately obvious.

EMC duly explained that it would deploy those staff and assets to support its Atmos enterprise-grade cloud storage service, which is run out of EMC’s Seattle premises.
That explanation lends credence to the argument that open source software will play a major role in cloud computing environments, which require highly scalable and customisable systems that are unencumbered by the complexities of software licensing.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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