Category Archives: M&A

NTT Data to acquire Dell Services for $3.06 billion

NTT DataJapan’s NTT Data is to acquire Dell’s IT Services business for $3.06 billion, in an effort to bolster its footprint in the North American region.

The announcement confirms speculation over recent months as to the future of the IT Services division, as Dell has been rumoured to be searching for a buyer for the business unit to aid financing of the EMC deal. Dell Services was initially formed through the acquisition of Perot Systems in 2009 for $3.9 billion. The new agreement with NTT Data will see Dell absorb an $800 million loss on the division and could indicate that financing the EMC acquisition is more difficult than initially expected.

In December, BCN reported Dell had been facing challenges in financing one of the biggest financial deals in history. For the $63 billion EMC acquisition to proceed, Dell has had to reduce its levels of debt with the Perot Systems business unit rumoured to be a favourite for sale.

The company will initially remain under the leadership of Suresh Vaswani, current President of Dell Services, who will continue to report to Dell CEO Michael Dell until the completion of the deal. It is believed that as part of the acquisition NTT Data will take on 28,000 Dell employees, though future leadership of the business has not been confirmed.

“NTT Data is pleased with the unique opportunity to acquire such high-calibre talent, and a corporate culture that shares common values with NTT Data, with emphasis on client first, foresight, teamwork and a commitment to innovation,” said Toshio Iwamoto, President and CEO of NTT Data Corporation. “Welcoming Dell Services to NTT DATA is expected to strengthen our leadership position in the IT Services market and initiates an important business relationship with Dell.”

NTT Data’s acquisition of the IT services division is the largest by the company to date and continues to bolster its North American footprint. Revenues for NTT Data in overseas markets has more than doubled since 2011 and in the same period the company has spent more than $600 million on acquisitions. The company has prioritized growth in the North America region, primarily targeting lucrative contracts in the healthcare, banking, financial services and insurance.

Since 2011 NTT Data has been proactive in bolstering its overseas business with a number of acquisitions throughout the world. In Europe it acquired companies including Everis and Value Team, in North America Optimal Solutions Integration and Carlisle & Gallagher were added, whereas iPay88 increased the company’s footprint in Malaysia.

“There are few acquisition targets in our market that provide this type of unique opportunity to increase our competitiveness and the depth of our market offerings,” said John McCain, CEO of NTT Data. “Dell Services is a very well-run business and we believe its employee base, long-standing client relationships, and the mix of long term and project-based work will enhance our portfolio.”

The deal could indicate that financing the EMC agreement has proved to be more difficult than initially expected. Dell Services as a business unit was reportedly to be valued in the region of $5 billion, which could highlight Dell’s urgency in completing the sale. If reports are correct, it would appear NTT Data has negotiated a good deal.

Micro Focus moves into DevOps space with $540 million Serena acquisition

Money cloudUK enterprise software vendor Micro Focus has announced its intention to acquire US firm Serena Software, in a bid to improve its position in the DevOps space.

Subject to competition clearances from the US and Germany the $540 million acquisition is set to close in May. It will enable Micro Focus to enhance its DevOps credentials, and capitalize on one of the industry’s fastest growing trends.

“Today’s announcement marks another significant milestone for Micro Focus, bringing together two highly complementary solution sets that enable customers to build better applications, adapt to changing business conditions more rapidly and maximise the value of existing investments to drive further innovation within their business,” said Stephen Murdoch, CEO at Micro Focus.

“With Serena, we are further positioned to deliver richer solutions for the complex business demands customers are solving today – with greater reliability, predictability and less risk of failure.”

Micro Focus claims Serena’s capabilities around “true DevOps” will improve its position in a growing market and enable them to improve new business services through automated release and deployment solutions.

“This is an exciting announcement that promises to offer substantial value to Serena customers and partners,” said Greg Hughes, CEO of Serena. “Our complementary strengths in software development and IT Operations will only serve to provide a stronger foundation for the next-generation of applications and services they require to meet ongoing business demands.”

Micro Focus, which says it specializes in enterprise application modernization, has been bolstering its capabilities in recent years, with a focus of diversifying its customer base and portfolio. In 2014, the company announced it was merging with Attachmate Group for approximately US$1.2 billion, which also owned Novell and Suse Linux.

At the time, Kevin Loosemore, Executive Chairman of Micro Focus said “This is a transformational event that enables Micro Focus International to further meet the needs and demands of our customers and global partner network with greater scale, a broader portfolio and the global reach their businesses require.”

Cisco to buy cloud orchestrator CliQr for $260 million

Cisco corporateCisco has announced its intention to buy CliQr Technologies, a Californian start up that specialises in making apps run faster in the new bare metal, virtualised and container environments that are becoming increasingly pivotal in cloud computing.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay $260 million in cash and assumed equity awards, plus retention based incentives. The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of 2016, subject to closing conditions. The CliQr team will join Cisco’s Insieme Business Unit reporting to Prem Jain, Cisco’s general manager.

Announcing the acquisition at Cisco’s Partner Summit, Cisco’s VP of Corporate Development Robert Salvagno said that the new technology will help its systems integrators and service provider partners to simplify the marshalling of resources and help get private, public and hybrid cloud projects running quicker. CliQr has out-of-the box support for all major public cloud environments.

Cisco said it will now continue to integrate CliQr across its data centre portfolio.

Cisco had already integrated CliQr with its Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and Unified Computing systems (UCS) prior to acquisition, in a bid to improve the movement of applications between on-premise and cloud environments. Having achieved that it now aims to integrate CliQr across its data centre portfolio, extending the ‘orchestration of services’ to cover eventualities such as bare metal computing, containerised systems and all the various types of virtualisation.

CliQr simplifies management by giving customers a single system for managing the application lifecycle across hybrid IT environments. Cisco claims the system is intuitive and can simplify the most complex systems. With computing becoming a hybrid of traditional on premise IT and services running in the cloud, many CIOs and network managers have been left behind by the new complexity and inefficiencies and blockages have emerged which Cisco claims it can now smooth out.

Among the productivity improvements promised by CliQr is a feature that allows managers to create a single, secure application profile that can then be whizzed across any data centre, public or private cloud. Other managerial time savers include a consistent policy making scheme, an application optimiser across hybrid systems, a one click rollout and ‘complete visibility’ and control across applications, cloud environments and users.

EC clears acquisition of EMC by Dell – won’t distort competition

Dell office logoThe European Commission has approved the acquisition of storage and software giant EMC by PC and server maker Dell.

In a statement Commissioner Margrethe Vestager declared that the deal meets the criteria of the EU’s Merger Regulation. The strategic importance of the data storage sector meant that the EC was able to approve Dell’s multi-billion dollar takeover of EMC within a short space of time, according to Vestager, who thanked the Federal Trade Commission for close cooperation.

The Commission assessed the effects of the transaction on the market for external enterprise storage systems. The Commission also investigated the risk that the merged entity could attempt to restrict access to VMware’s software for competing hardware vendors. The Commission is convinced there will be no adverse effects on customers, according to Vestager.

The Commission found that the merged entity has a moderate market share in the market for external enterprise storage systems and the increment brought about by the merger is small. The new Dell/EMC entity will continue to face strong competition from established players, such as Hitachi, HP, IBM and NetApp, as well as from new entrants, it said.

Despite VMware’s ‘strong market position’ in server virtualization software, the available evidence led the EC investigators to conclude that the merged entity would have neither the ability nor the incentive to shut out competitors. The likes of Citrix, Microsoft and Red Hat can give it plenty of competition in the server virtualisation market, the EC has judged, and it predicted that the EMC/Dell hybrid won’t have things its own way in new technology markets.

Since customers typically multi-source from more than one server virtualization software provider and VMware’s approach has traditionally been hardware and software-neutral, it offers work opportunities to a large number of vendors. Equally, in the server market, Dell has strong competitors that will continue to operate either in partnership with VMware or with third party virtualisation software providers.

The combination of Dell’s and EMC’s external enterprise storage systems products won’t have an impact on competition given the number of alternatives to VMware’s software.

The Commission also asked whether the merged entity could shut competitors out from the virtualization software used for converged and hyper-converged infrastructure systems. Here it also found there were no concerns raised. The merger, when first reported in BCN in October 2015, was valued at $60 billion.

Oracle buys enterprise workload manager Ravello Systems for a reported $500m

OracleOracle has disclosed details of its acquisition of workload management specialist Ravello Systems. No financial terms were revealed over the deal, but sources familiar with the company value the sale at $500 million, according to venture capital news site Venturebeat.

Ravello, which makes tools that help enterprises manage their enterprise workloads in the cloud, signed an agreement to be acquired on February 22 with all employees joining Oracle’s Public Cloud division.

The new management features will help Oracle’s Public Cloud beef up the performance of its computing, storage and networking workloads. Oracle has launched a number of initiatives aimed at positioning its cloud business more favourably against market leaders Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

In February BCN reported how Oracle had added new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud offerings from its Slough data centre, which currently caters for 500 UK and global customers. Clients from both the private and public sector are being promised tailored versions of the new services, which include Oracle’s Database, Dedicated Compute, Big Data and Exadata cloud services.

Palo Alto based Ravello was founded in 2011 and was balancing the cloud workloads for clients such as Arista, Brocade, Red Hat, SUSE and Symantec. In total it had raised $54 million in funding from venture capitalists such as Sequoia Capital, Norwest Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners because its Cloud Application Hypervisor offered enterprises a way to unify the application environment across public and private clouds.

Ravello CEO Rami Tamir explained on the company web site why the technology will be part of the Oracle Public Cloud. “This agreement will accelerate our ability to reach more customers,” said Tamir, “our top priority is ensuring an uninterrupted service and seamless experience for you and all of our customers and partners. Rest assured, Ravello’s service will continue as is. Ravello will join Oracle’s IaaS mission to allow customers to run any type of workload in the cloud.”

Salesforce bolsters machine learning business with PredictionIO acquisition

AI-Artificial-Intelligence-Machine-Learning-Cognitive-ComputingOpen source machine learning software vendor PredictionIO has announced it is to become part of Salesforce. The Palo Alto start up has stressed that the software will continue to be available under an open source Apache license.

The addition of analytics and machine learning has become a key strategy to Salesforce as it bids to build on its cloud offerings. Last year BCN reported how Salesforce was adding new Wave Actions to its Analytics Cloud intelligence tool. More recently it bought machine learning companies RelateIQ and Tempo AI and integrated staff into its data science teams.

Machine learning, which can be used in many cloud applications, has become an area of contention in the cloud industry with other start ups in this area, such as H2O and Skytree, the subject of takeover rumours.

California based PredictionIO was formed in 2013 and a year later received $2.5 million in backing from investors including Azure Capital Partners. Other backers include CrunchFund, the Stanford-StartX Fund and Kima Ventures. Dropbox is PredictionIO’s most prominent client.

CEO Simon Chan explained the rationale for selling the firm on his company blog. As part of Salesforce, PredictionIO’s machine learning system will get immediate access to the entire Salesforce clouds. The opportunity to extend SalesforceIQ’s machine learning and intelligence was a chance not to be passed up, he said. “Being a part of Salesforce will give us an amazing opportunity to continue building our open source machine learning platform on a much larger scale,” said Chan.

Chan’s objective will be the same within Salesforce – to simplify development of machine learning technology and build it up. PredictionIO now has 8,000 developers creating over 400 apps. Chan pledged that PredictionIO’s open source technology will stay that way and will continue to be free to all users. To mark the Salesforce deal it is to dropping the PredictionIO Cluster software fee on AWS Cloudformation, which will is now free for the first time in the company’s history.

Giant IT distributor Ingram bought by HNA Group for $6 billion

M&A merger acquisitionGlobal technology distributor turned cloud service provider Ingram Micro is to be bought by Chinese conglomerate HNA Group for $6 billion.

Ingram will continue to be based in California but is now a subsidiary of marine logistics specialist Tianjin Tianhai, which is owned by The HNA Group, an aviation, tourism and logistics outfit. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2016. Ingram CEO Alain Monié and his management team will remain and its business is expected to continue as normal.

“The addition of Ingram Micro would help the logistics sector of HNA Group transform from a logistics operator to a supply chain operator, and provide one-stop services while improving efficiencies,” said Adam Tan, CEO of HNA Group.

Founded in 1989 when IT was a hardware defined industry Ingram Micro became the world’s largest wholesale technology products distributor with clients such as Acer, Apple, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lenovo, Microsof and Samsung. It ranks 62nd in the 2015 Fortune 500. As the IT industry evolved to become software driven, it has taken steps to transform itself. It announced cloud partnerships with IBM and Parallels at its Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2014 and promised tools to help its reseller clients make the transition to selling cloud services. To this end Ingram Micro added three new services, Hosted Exchange, Virtual Private Server and Web Hosting.

However, the funding from the new owners could help it make more of a transition, according to a statement from Alain Monié, Ingram Micro CEO. “Our agreement to join HNA Group delivers near-term and compelling cash value to our stockholders and we expect it to provide exciting new opportunities for our vendors, customers and associates,” said Monie, “innovation, new services introduction, brand management and ensuring the stability and continuity of the businesses joining their enterprise are fundamental to HNA Group’s overall strategy.”

Analyst Clive Longbottom at Quocirca said TTI seems to be ‘paying high’ in order to gain direct access to western markets. “Whether this will work remains to be seen,” said Longbottom, “will the US government and all its dependent departments shy away from Ingram now, fearing that the Chinese will be implementing back doors via firmware or software changes?”

For the general user, this will probably make very little difference, the analyst predicted. “It’s likely that TTI will be hands off, using Ingram to optimise its overall buying power on a global basis to be able to either provide better margins or to compete on price more effectively where required, ” said Longbottom. Ingram shareholders, meanwhile, are getting a 39% premium over Ingram’s closing price.

Amazon Web Services buys HPC management specialist Nice

amazon awsAmazon Web Services (AWS) has announced its intention to acquire high performance and grid computer boosting specialist Nice.

Details of the takeover of the Asti based software and services company were not revealed. However, in his company blog AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr outlined the logic of the acquisition. “These [Nice] products help customers to optimise and centralise their high performance computing and visualization workloads,” wrote Barr, “they also provide tools that are a great fit for distributed workforces making use of mobile devices.”

The NICE brand and team will remain intact in Italy, said Barr. Their brief is to continue to develop and support the company’s EnginFrame and Desktop Cloud Visualization (DCV) products. The only difference, said Barr, is that they now have the backing of the AWS team. In future, however, NICE and AWS are to collaborate on projects to create better tools and services for high performance computing and virtualisation.

NICE describes itself as a ‘Grid and Cloud Solutions’ developer, specialising in technical computing portals, grid and high performance computing (HPC) technologies. Its services include remote visualization, application grid-enablement, data exchange, collaboration, software as a service and grid intelligence.

The EnginFrame product is a grid computing portal designed to make it easier to submit analysis jobs to super computers and to manage and monitor the results. EnginFrame is an open framework based on Java, XML and Web Services. Its purpose is to make it easier to set up user-friendly, application- and data-oriented portals. It simplifies the submission and control of grid computing enabled applications. It also acts to monitor workloads, data and licenses from within the same user dashboard. By hiding the diversity and complexity of the native interfaces, it aims to allow more users get the full range of benefits from high performing computing platforms, whose operating systems are off-puttingly complex.

Desktop Cloud Visualization is a remote 3D visualization technology that enables technical computing users to connect to OpenGL and Direct/X applications running in a data centre. NICE has customers in industries ranging from aerospace to industrial, energy and utilities.

The deal is expected to close by the end of March 2016.

$19 billion Western Digital acquisition of SanDisk gets EC approval

Disk CloudThe European Commission has announced its approval of the proposed take over of storage vendor SanDisk by Western Digital. The merger of the two US-based storage rivals will not adversely affect competition in Europe, the EC has ruled.

In October 2015 BCN reported that Western Digital had announced plans buy chip maker SanDisk for around $19 billion. Flash specialist SanDisk is ranked by IDC as the largest manufacturer of NAND flash memory chips. The capacity of NAND Flash Memory products to store data in a small footprint, while simultaneously using less power but granting faster access to data, has made NAND the storage technology of choice in data centres that support cloud computing.

The market for NAND flash chips was worth $28.9 billion in 2014, according to IDC.

The Commission found that the only overlap between the activities of the hard disk manufacturers is in selling flash memory storage systems and solid-state drives to the enterprise market. In this case, the effects of the merger on competition will be minimal, it has ruled, despite their relatively high combined market share. The presence of Intel, Toshiba, Micron and Samsung in the same market will exert sufficient competitive pressure to prevent the creation of a Western Digital hegemony, the European Commission has ruled.

The Commission also investigated the vertical link between SanDisk’s production of flash memory and the downstream markets for enterprise flash memory storage systems. With flash memory an essential component of solid state drives and other flash memory storage systems the EC investigators have researched whether Western Digital will be in a position to block competitors from access to flash memory.

It also studied the likelihood that competing producers of flash memory might find themselves with an unsustainable customer base. However, SanDisk’s presence on the upstream flash memory market was judged as ‘limited’ and the presence of several active competitors makes this a manageable risk.

“This multi-billion dollar deal can go ahead without delay,” said competition policy commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Juniper Networks buys telco cloud vendor BTI Systems

business cloud network worldData centre infrastructure vendor Juniper Networks is to buy BTI Systems, a specialist developer of software-defined networking (SDN) tools and networking hardware, reports

The acquisition was announced on Juniper’s website which gave no details of the terms of the deal. However, in a comparable takeover in 2012, Juniper paid $176 million when it bought SDN startup Contrail. In its statement Juniper explained its need to speed up the delivery of open and automated packet optical transport systems, as demand for cloud services booms.

Juniper’s General Manager of Development Jonathan Davidson said Juniper will integrate the new SDN tools with its NorthStar Controller and use the new network management features to create new end-to-end services.

The move may affect cloud service providers as it gives owners of multiple data centres a new option for juggling huge volumes of data within their own data centre estate. BTI’s data centre and service provider clients include top tier operators such as Equinix, Interxion, Rackspace and VKontakte. It has a client base of 380 data centre operators and cloud service providers.

Since BTI specializes in cloud and metro networking, in which large volumes of content are shifted between data centres concentrated in the same town or city, the new technology addition could position Juniper more favourably when tendering against Cisco and Arista.

Ottowa based Canadian network BTI has previously raised $60 million in venture capital from backers including Bain Capital Ventures, Export Development Canada and Fujitsu Network Communications.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and the expected date for transaction closure was given as ‘Q2 of this year’.