5:20 PM -- Just because EMC says it's cutting back on acquisitions, and storage IPOs are hot, doesn't mean this won't be a big year for M&A. (See Tucci Aims for 'One EMC' and Double-Take, Isilon Go Public.)
In the real world, people spend themselves silly in December and go through January wondering how they'll climb out of a chasm of debt. In the storage world, companies take a week off from M&A at the end of December and then pick up where they left off.
This week, IBM grabbed Softek in the first major storage acquisition of the year, and Adaptec and Xiotech reminded the world they're shopping. (See Softek Joins IBM, Adaptec Looking to Adapt, and Xiotech Intros Products, Services.) And while EMC and Brocade are digesting acquisitions, you can bet frequent buyers Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Network Appliance, and Symantec are still hungry for more storage. (See Brocade Closes Out McData.)
In the past, companies were reluctant to discuss acquisition plans. That's understandable -- maybe they didn't want the competition to know they were expanding, or they didn't want to admit they had holes in their product lines. Now vendors are telling people exactly what they're looking for. Adaptec wants data protection software. Xiotech is adding e-discovery products, consulting, and services. Now if you have any products or services in those spaces, you know whom to call.
Nobody seems to be looking for hardware, but that won't slow things down. There are far too many software companies that have technologies in demand to list them all: Replication, data classification and search, WAFS, security, continuous data protection, and virtual tape libraries are all hot.