Systems transformation

Novell is a veteran of the IT software industry that became obscured around the middle of the decade in a fog of patent disputes, open source shenanigans and financial sluggishness. But today, the company is in the process of inventing itself afresh as an IT management tools vendor through some well-chosen acquisitions

Novell’s February 2008 acquisition of virtual machine management tool vendor PlateSpin signalled it was looking to acquire pure-play technology providers to build a portfolio in data centre and related management technologies.

That strategy was reinforced in October with an offer for business service management (BSM) tools vendor Managed Objects. Managed Objects’ technology lets organisations tie their IT systems to the specific business services they support, and so define characteristics like performance and downtime in terms of business, not IT, metrics.

Alongside that traditional BSM line, though, is Managed Objects’ highly successful configuration management database (CMDB) product – a repository for data describing how hardware is configured. According to the company, second quarter sales were up 50% in North America compared to the same period in 2007, driven by “remarkable demand” for its CMDB technology.

Making the change

The consolidation in the IT management segment is taking several forms. Other vendors are trying to augment their traditional software sales approach with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model – a shift that is not always proving easy.

Last year IT security, storage and systems management software company Symantec launched the Symantec Protection Network, a SaaS platform for the online delivery of common security tools including back-up and secure remote access.

But the rate with which that service has grown has clearly not been to Symantec’s satisfaction. In October 2008, the company announced a more aggressive move into managed security software services through the acquisition of MessageLabs, the UK-based web and email security SaaS pioneer, for $695 million.

Founded in 1999, MessageLabs’ managed email services made it one of the first commercially successful SaaS companies in the security space, tackling spyware, viruses and spam on behalf of customers. Company revenues for the financial year to 31 July hit £72.5 million, up from £60.3 million in fiscal 2007.

Further reading

McAfee secures Secure Computing
Plus, HCL Technologies attempts to gazump Infosys on Axon Group acquisition

And so it begins…
Does Infosys’ acquisition of UK SAP consultancy Axon Group signal the start of the Indian IT services takeover?

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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