Over the past two months, Network Appliance completed its acquisition of Topio, IBM announced its intentions to purchase Softek Storage Solutions and now Hitachi Data Systems is buying Archivas. But which of these acquisitions can users expect to succeed in the long run?
How other companies have handled past acquisitions might provide some insight into how these company mergers and their products will fare long term.
Two good examples are EMC's purchases of Data General and VMware. The Data General line of midrange storage products became EMC's Clariion line of midrange disk arrays and they are now considered the standard in midrange arrays by many enterprise shops. Similarly, you can't read a magazine that doesn't include some mention of VMware and which appears destined for success.
However, users understand the inherent value proposition of these products. While the EMC name gives users a sense of security, users also recognize they don't need buy EMC's entire product portfolio to realize them.
Buying VMWare does not mean you need to purchase a Clariion CX-3 array or vice versa. Integration of these products with other EMC product lines remains largely restricted to the PowerPoint slides on the laptops of EMC sales reps.
So do these latest acquisitions by IBM, HDS and NetApp meet these criteria? From a technology perspective, absolutely. Both Softek's Transparent Data Migration Facility (TDMF) and Topio's Data Protection Suite (TDPS) provide heterogeneous replication services at the host and network levels respectively, while Archivas provides unalterable digital archiving that can use any vendor's storage on the back end.
The real issue users need to keep their eyes on is will these three companies be able to leave well enough alone. With NetApp, the answer appears to be yes as they have already set up a new Data Replication business unit. But with IBM and HDS, users will need to watch and wait to see if they can resist the urge to tinker with a good thing.