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Article from Techcrunch.

Cisco has announced it plans to acquire Cloupia for $125 million. The software company helps customers automate their data centers.

Cisco sees Cloupia’s infrastructure management software enhancing its Unified Computing System (UCS) and Nexus switching portfolio. Cisco expects Cloupia will help better manage the automation of compute, network and storage as well as virtual machine and operating system resources.

Cisco UCS is a converged infrastructure play. Cisco has made a big bet on providing converged infrastructures that consolidates compute, storage and networking into one box. IT wants to decrease its data center dependency. Vendors like Cisco, EMC and IBM see converged infrastructures as a way to sell their hardware into the enterprise.

Investing in these systems has its costs for IT. The systems are pricey and create a lock-in with one vendor.

Cisco wrote a blog post about the acquisition today. Here’s a snippet:

Cisco’s acquisition of Cloupia benefits Cisco’s Data Center strategy by providing single “pane-of-glass” management across Cisco and partner solutions including FlexPod, VSPEX, and Vblock. Cloupia’s products will integrate into the Cisco data center portfolio through UCS Manager, UCS Central, and Nexus 1000V, strengthening Cisco’s overall ecosystem strategy by providing open APIs for integration with a broad community of developers and partners.

The post is a window into Cisco’s data center strategy. Like other big enterprise software companies, Cisco partners with companies such as NetApp and VMware to sell its solutions through its extensive sales channels.

Read more here.

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Article from GigaOm.

Fundamental changes in networking and computing are shaking things up in the enterprise IT world. These changes, combined with ubiquitous broadband and new devices like smart phones and tablets, are leading to new business models, new services and shifts in corporate behavior. It’s also leading to a lot of M&A activity as companies jockey for position before the ongoing technology shift settles into the new status quo.

A report out today from Deutsche Bank lays out some of the shifts and names what it believes are the 11 most likely acquirers, calling those companies the Big 11. The bank’s Big 11 are: Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm. They were selected because of their size, their cash balance and their willingness to make strategic acquisitions. The report talks about which companies each might acquire, but it also gives a wealth of data on the companies which comprise the Big 11 that any startup looking for a buyer on the software and infrastructure side might find worthwhile.

In addition to the information on buyers, the report goes on to explain why many deals today are valued at multiples that are so much higher than the potential revenue of the company (HP’s buy of 3PAR is a prime example of this trend):

On the other hand, the multiples paid for these companies go counter to typical expectations for valuations. All of these deals were priced at considerable premiums to forward estimates. The implication is that the larger companies believed that there were strategic benefits far in excess of the smaller companies’ near-term prospects. A common criticism of acquisitions holds that management teams of large companies try to buy revenue and earnings to offset far lower growth rates in their core businesses. This does not appear to be the case with these deals. We see this as confirming our thesis that large companies are looking to buy technology and product synergies. In all of these deals, we see larger companies either significantly building up weak product lines or looking for the ability to bundle new features into existing equipment.

Some of the 50 targets mentioned are:

  • Salesforce.com (s crm )
  • VMware
  • Adobe
  • Citrix
  • Research In Motion
  • Riverbed Technology
  • SAP
  • Atheros
  • Skyworks
  • f5 (sffiv)
  • Juniper

Each are on the list of potential candidates for different reasons associated with improving the quality and speed of delivering web-based applications and services from a cloud-based infrastructure to a multitude of devices. However, there are plenty of startups and private companies that are pioneering new technologies in these areas which are also fair game. The report doesn’t go into the content side of the business where companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Disney, etc. are fighting for features and services to expand their reach and platforms.

Since we’re living through an enormous period of potential disruption thanks to technology, the giants in the industry find themselves playing a game of musical chairs as they seek the best seat at the table for the future. Startups and larger public companies that will help those giants fill out their offerings before the music stops are under the microscope and perhaps at the top of their valuations.”

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Article from GigaOm.

“Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, hired former HP CEO Mark Hurd and declared that as “Oracle continues to grow, we need people experienced in operating a $100 billion business,” and ever since, the technology world has waited to see what other acquisitions Larry Ellison might have up his sleeve. This past week, we saw strong reactions to the rumor that Oracle might make a bid to buy EMC, due to the acquisition’s outlandish nature and monetary mismatch. Oracle will need to more than triple its revenue to reach that $100 billion target, so anything is possible.

That said, the rumor whips up a bunch of financial questions, because EMC owns 80 percent of VMware. EMC has a market capitalization of around $43 billion, and VMware around $32 billion. Match that up with EMC’s annual revenues of around $15 billion and VMware at $2.4 billion, and it isn’t hard to figure out where most of the value is, as well as where Oracle might be able to get a good deal on the multiple leading storage platforms.

So yes, the idea of Oracle buying EMC and VMware is a little crazy. But the idea of buying EMC and not VMware is within the realm of possibility, at least on paper, with The Register estimating that the non-VMware portion of EMC could be worth as little as $7.9 billion.

This is where things get interesting. The industry appears to be pushing towards server, network and storage consolidation following the moves of HP, IBM, Cisco, and Dell. Even Oracle has pushed a complete hardware and software package with Exalogic and Exadata using technology from Sun Microsystems to deliver an integrated solution. EMC and Network Appliance remain the large pure-play storage companies that could add significant heft to a server vendor that wants to dominate integrated stacks. HP and IBM have too much product overlap, and Dell can’t afford EMC, so that leaves an opening for Oracle and Cisco.

It seems likely that Oracle could be considering an EMC-only bid. I’ve heard some speculate that the reason Oracle became so tied to NetApp for certain solutions was the fear of EMC data center account control. Make no mistake; EMC knows how to close big deals, as their revenue number proves. If the goal for Oracle is to reach $100 billion, NetApp wouldn’t help them as effectively. NetApp currently has an $18 billion dollar market cap and just over $4 billion in revenue.

With Oracle, and potentially Cisco, interested in looking at a the EMC part of the equation, there could be impetus to move this deal forward. Even though Sun had plenty of great storage technology, they never had the commercial product success and storage revenues of EMC. If consolidation between servers and storage is the future, EMC better get cozy with someone soon.”

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Oracle, Dell, Xerox and now HP – the high tech world as we knew it is changing fast. Companies that previously stood their ground and was seen as pillars of innovation are know swallowed into mega-companies that will challenge the marketplace with new services, products and offerings. Here is some selected tidbits from BusinessWeek in regards to the deal.

“Through its acquisition of networking gear maker 3Com, Hewlett-Packard will accelerate competition with Cisco Systems (CSCO), especially in China, practically overnight. Then comes the hard part. To make the most of the $2.7 billion deal, HP also needs to revitalize 3Com’s faded brand and persuade Western companies to take a chance on its products, designed largely in Asia.

Analysts were quick to see the logic in the planned acquisition, announced on Nov. 11. HP (HPQ) is attacking Cisco’s dominance of the market for gear that connects computers just as Cisco moves more aggressively into the market for computer systems, where HP is strong. Cisco on Nov. 3 struck a partnership with storage company EMC (EMC) and software company VMware (VMW) aimed atsupplying bundles of computers, storage, networking, and software.”

The article continues…

“HP’s bigger challenge in making the deal a success will be removing the tarnish that remains on the 3Com ‘s brand in the U.S. and Europe as a result of years of mismanagement. While 3Com’s data-center networking gear has about 35% of the Chinese market, it’s practically absent from the largest companies in the U.S. and Europe, analysts say.”

Read the full article here.

Other good resources for this topic include: Barrons, WSJ, 24/7 Wall St., Mashable & Techcrunch.

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As the economic slump is fading off, tech titans have amassed cash for possible takeovers. Here is an opionion further explaining this from 24/7 Wall Street Blog.

“The economy is obviously getting better, so long as you are not one of the unemployed or about to lose your job.  Now with more than a 50% rally from the March lows and a Dow Jones Industrial Average challenging the 10,000 level, suddenly everyone wants to put on their investment banker hats again and look for buyers and buyout candidates after deals are announced.  This week’s Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) deal for Perot Systems Corp. (NASDAQ: PER) was a $3.9 billion acquisition versus $12.7 billion in cash and equivalents held at the end of the quarter.  The Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL) deal for Sun Microsystems Inc. (NASDAQ: JAVA) is valued at $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun’s cash and debt.  We went back through our list from September 2, 2009 where we noted that outside of the financials  in the 20 largest US companies had a cash hoard of $335 billion that could be used for mergers and acquisitions, and that is not accounting for lines of credit, stock or debt that could be sold, and other means of financing a deal.  While nowhere near all of the cash will ever be used, many companies could pay big dividends before any tax changes.

So we wanted to look through the technology sector and after we looked through the top 100 markets caps in our 24/7 Wall St. Real-Time 500 we added a few new additions in the tech sector that still had over $5 billion in cash.  Out if the $335 billion from those in the top twenty, we broke out Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC), Oracle Corp. (NASDAQ: ORCL).  Even after a huge rally, $335 billion and then some could go a very long way for strategic and bolt-on acquisitions as a positioning strategy for the next decade.  Now, going further down the list of the top 100 companies with $5 billion or more in cash from tech companies alone adds in Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM), EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC), and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO). When we tally up all the cash, there is over $260 billion available from these few tech companies that could be deployed for mergers, acquisitions, or the good old dividends.  Again, that is before tallying up credit lines, factoring, debt sales, and other financing methods.

Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ) had almost $25 billion in cash and long-term investments.  Now that it has migrated away from just selling PCs and printers, we think that there will be a rather long lull before H-P tries to match its big buyout of EDS even if Dell is tip-toeing into IT-services and consulting with Perot.  But in the end, what we think may not matter.  Nearly $25 billion in cash when you know you will be profitable ahead leaves a lot of room to go out make purchases.

QUALCOMM Inc. (NASDAQ: QCOM) was the 29th largest company as of Wednesday with a $74.12 billion market cap. If you tally up its cash, short-term and long-term investments, it is sitting on almost $15 billion in cash and equivalents as of last quarter.  After all the lawsuits that the Jacobs team are settled, it might consider a way to deploy capital to get around future patent cases.  If only it was possible, although anything is possible.”

Read the full article here.

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Here is article from USA Today. As the crisis starts to ebb out, the downsizing has produced piles of cash at some companies.

“SAN FRANCISCO — There could be a thaw in the months-long stagnant market for tech mergers and acquisition.

Data-storage companies EMC (EMC) and NetApp are dueling to buy Data Domain for at least $1.8 billion. Last week, chipmaker Intel (INTC) said it would buy testing and development software maker Wind River Systems for $884 million.

The quarter’s big catch was when Oracle (ORCL) snapped up Sun Microsystems for $7.4 billion.

While hardly a buying spree, the uptick could signal a break for what has been a sluggish tech M&A market since the third quarter of last year.

So far, $17.9 billion has been spent on tech mergers in the U.S. in the current quarter — more than the previous two quarters combined, according to market researcher Thomson Reuters.

The activity reflects one byproduct of a sour economy: Big tech companies sitting on piles of cash are willing to spend some of it to aggressively pick up innovative start-ups as well as rivals with customers and market share.

The deals come at a time when venture capital funding is scarce for start-ups and there are scant initial public offerings.

“People historically make their money when they invest consistently, even during downturns,” says Keith Larson, vice president of Intel Capital, the company’s venture-capital arm. The company has said that it will spend $7 billion over two years to build advanced manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

“Almost the worst thing you can do is pull back during a downturn and miss out on buying opportunities,” Larson says. “We have a multiyear road map on the technology side.”

Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers, who has navigated the venerable network-equipment maker through several downturns, has said companies willing to take calculated risks often emerge stronger from recessions.

A few established companies with ample cash reserves this year have bolstered their war chests with the intention of snapping up companies.

Cisco (CSCO), which sold $4 billion in bonds in February, has about $33.5 billion in cash reserves. It acquired Pure Digital Technologies, maker of the popular Flip video camera, for $590 million.

“If you have cash, it is a good time to fortify product lines and fuel growth,” says Cynthia Ringo, managing partner for VC firm DBL Investors.

So far this quarter, there have been 239 deals in the U.S., including the Oracle-Sun blockbuster. In the first three months of this year, there were 313 deals.”

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