Expect more automation acquisitions, activities from the Big Four

Management software market watchers are trained to look at three other companies when one of the Big Four makes a move. One could say that habit comes from years of experience or industry savvy, but honestly not noticing the chain reaction any move among these constant competitors kicks off would be more of a challenge.

For instance, when HP acquired in 2007 acquired Opsware for $1.6 billion, the immediate thought that came to many management junkies' minds was: "Which of the remaining three -- BMC, CA or IBM -- will acquire BladeLogic?" The next thought, "How much will BladeLogic get considering the big price tag HP paid for Opsware?"

BMC acquired BladeLogic, and before that the vendor had picked up RealOps. Opsware before becoming part of HP had acquired start-up iConclude. The 2007 automation acquisition flurry of activity seems to have died down, but many are still prognosticating about what plans CA and IBM could have around automation.

One clue is recent licensing partnerships. CA inked an OEM deal with automation vendor Opalis earlier this year, which indicates CA may bring Opalis into the fold sometime soon. A CA buy of Opalis would make sense, considering the must-have nature of run-book and process automation technologies among the management software makers. And the recent partnership indicates CA, the larger software maker, is doing some due diligence to ensure Opalis technology fits CA's portfolio.

IBM, which started talk of autonomic computing in 2001, at its Pulse Conference in Orlando announced products that feature automation among the capabilities. Industry watchers say positive things about the current automation capabilities, but one still has to wonder if IBM's automation position is getting a little bit stale. There is no question Big Blue initiated the push toward automation, but in light of all the recent activity, industry watchers can't help but ask: "What will be IBM's next move toward automation?"

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.