Novell bids $205 million for virtualization management firm

Novell acquisition of PlateSpin would bolster its datacentre management portfolio

Novell Monday announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire for $US205 million PlateSpin, a maker of tools to help companies adopt, extend and manage server virtualisation in the datacentre.

The deal, expected to close by April 30, will equip Novell with the technology to help customers better manage and optimise heterogeneous physical and virtual servers in next-generation datacentres, the company said in a press conference call. PlateSpin, founded in 2003, generated more than $20 million in revenue in 2007 with its technology that disconnects software from hardware and allows servers to be streamed over a network from any source to any destination. Such capabilities, Novell executives say, will enable Novell to help its customers better manage workloads and optimise datacentre resources in any environment. "It is a cornerstone of Novell corporate strategy to help our customers work in a mixed environment," president and CEO of Novell, Ron Hovsepian, said.

The PlateSpin deal is Novell's second in two weeks. Last week, Novell announced the acquisition of open source collaboration vendor SiteScape. Novell officials are undecided on whether they will make any of PlateSpin's technology open source.

The pending acquisition will allow PlateSpin to expand its reach into larger companies and couple its technology with Novell's Zenworks management tools to "become a powerhouse," says Stephen Pollack, founder and CEO of PlateSpin, which is headquartered in Toronto.

This acquisition ideally would help Novell accomplish a goal toward which many management and virtualisation vendors are working: heterogeneous management of multivendor virtualisation platforms. VMware last northern Autumn acquired Dunes Technologies to bring more management capabilities in-house, and Microsoft is expected to couple its virtualisation wares with management capabilities.

"It's going to be a big year for virtualisation, and there is an awful lot of money floating around the big players in the management market," such as BMC Software, CA, EMC, HP and IBM, principal and founder of market research firm Ptak, Noel and Associates, Rich Ptak, said. "The demand for platform-agnostic, heterogeneous virtual management is going to be there, and Microsoft is going to put a lot of pressure on the virtualisation market because it is beefing up its management capabilities. Successful vendors have to make virtualisation accessible and make management a critical function that is easy to implement."

Following the close of the deal, some 200 PlateSpin employees are expected to join the Systems and Resource Management business unit at Novell. PlateSpin products, such as PlateSpin Forge, PowerConvert and PowerRecon, will continue for now with existing branding, as will Novell's Zenworks line. Going forward, however, Novell will consider product integration and branding changes.

The deal was approved by the boards of both companies and must undergo the customary approvals. That is expected to happen during Novell's second 2008 fiscal quarter, which ends April 30. Novell declined to comment further on the more specific financials of the deal because the company has an earnings call scheduled for Thursday, February 28.

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