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WSJ Reports Imminent Sale of ArcSight: No kidding?

Who will buy ArcSight and why

By joltsik on Thu, 08/26/10 - 5:17pm.

An industry friend just sent me a story from the Wall Street Journal proclaiming that security management leader ArcSight will be acquired within the next week. The story goes on to say that the likely buyers include Oracle, HP, EMC, IBM, and CA.

Hmm. First of all, anyone familiar with ArcSight was sure this was coming. The company is a leader in a growing market segment, has a great Federal business, and is one of few real enterprise players. It is interesting to me that the Wall Street Journal is spreading rumors but that's another story.

Let me weigh in by handicapping the field:

1. Oracle. This would be a bold strategic move as Oracle plays in security tools for Oracle and the identity management space, but not the broader security market. ArcSight is an enterprise software company so it fits with Oracle sales and channels. ArcSight also runs on an Oracle database (for better and for worse). To me, Oracle makes sense as a potential suitor.

2. HP. HP people always tell me that they want to be in the security services not the security products business. They company backed this up when it sold its identity management portfolio to Novell. ArcSight fits with OpenView/Opsware as enterprise software so it may have changed its mind, but HP probably wants to be careful with acquisitions in the wake of the Mark Hurd scandal. Heck, HP put in a bid for 3Par this week and Wall Street went nuts. Given these factors, I'd be surprised if it were HP.

3. EMC. Forget this rumor. EMC already bought one of ArcSight's primary competitors (Network Intelligence, now RSA EnVision). There are a dozen security acquisitions I could think of that would make more sense for EMC/RSA.

4. IBM. Great fit in terms of enterprise software but this would be IBM's third security management offering (the original Tivoli security manager and then GuardedNet which IBM got as a result of the Micromuse deal). Neither of these products have really resonated in the market. If anyone can erase two previous products, IBM can. I rate this one as likely as Oracle.

5. CA. CA's security presence is really limited to the identity space. Like IBM, CA has tried several times to penetrate the security management market with little success. I can see CA wanting ArcSight but if Oracle or IBM jump in, the price may quickly get too high for CA.

Given the Intel deal, McAfee is likely out of the running. I've heard through the grapevine that McAfee made several attempts at ArcSight but the price tag was just too big. Symantec, like IBM and CA, has also developed security management products that haven't taken off in the market. If Enrique Salem is up for another big acquisition, ArcSight would be a great fit.

Finally, wherever ArcSight ends up, there are plenty of other innovative security management companies that may quickly follow. Feisty Q1 Labs would be a natural for Juniper. Brainy Nitro Security could be a fit for Cisco or CA. LogRhythm could be a good addition for HP, Check Point, Websense, etc.

ArcSight deserves what it gets as it really guided the security market moving forward. It's fate will greatly influence the enterrpise security market moving forward.