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Confronting Consolidation

Unless you've had your head in the sand, you can't have missed the news about the acquisitions occurring in the storage industry over the past year or so.

Big-name acquisitions like Symantec/Veritas, Sun Microsystems/STK, and Quantum/ADIC have generated a lot of ink in the industry rags. But smaller firms too are being plucked off the vine by larger industry players, in many cases, before they are fully ripe.

In the latter case, early adopters of the technologies are finding themselves left in the proverbial lurch, and many are mightily disheartened.

Case in point: At a conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by CA a couple of weeks back, the Q&A period was dominated by a fellow from Verizon. Seems he was deeply troubled by the fact that several vendors, whose products his company had recently chosen for strategic storage solutions, had been snatched up by brand-name firms, ones that whose products had been nixed from the short lists. The fellows complaint distilled down to three things:

  • First, at least one of the smaller companies had a better fitting solution for the customer’s problem than the big guy. Now that the company was acquired, the competitive value that he expected to glean from it was gone.
  • Second, the little vendors who had gotten the nod had fresh ideas with seemingly robust developmental roadmaps. The fellow was afraid that the acquisition would drive the talented developers out of the company, compromising the value of the product going forward.
  • Third, the products of one of the little vendors was standards-based and manageable. Brand-name acquirer had a tendency to eschew standards in favor of proprietary foo that made his hardware or software more difficult to manage in a standards-based way. Despite market-speak to the contrary, brand-name vendor would prefer to keep its products closed in order to keep customers locked in and competitors locked out.

The Verizon man was perturbed in part by the acquisition of Kashya by EMC, opining that other products had been “destroyed” by that company after they were acquired. He wondered aloud why EMC would buy a company that offered a product for which they already had at least two competitive wares on their play card.

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