Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 10 Tech Acquisitions Of 2011

By Rob Preston InformationWeek
December 16, 2011 09:40 AM

While 2011 wasn't a year of historically huge tech merger and acquisition deals, activity was nonetheless vigorous. Google alone bought more than 20 companies, while the likes of HP, Oracle, SAP, Dell, and Microsoft rounded out their mature product portfolios with acquisitions. Among the strongest riptides in enterprise IT M&A: software as a service (SaaS), mobility, big data, and social networking.

What follows, in reverse order, is one editor's take on the 10 most important (though not necessarily the largest) enterprise IT acquisitions of the year. Not included on this list are the big OEM-oriented deals: Western Digital's $4.3 billion deal to buy Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, for instance, or Texas Instruments' $6.5 billion acquisition of National Semiconductor.

10. VMware and Socialcast: Virtualization market leader VMware isn't immune to social business fever, acquiring Socialcast, a maker of cloud-based communications and collaboration software that mimics "the interaction style of social networks, but with the security, management, and integration functions of an enterprise system," as my colleague David Carr reported in May. The Socialcast deal (terms weren't disclosed) followed two other cloud acquisitions by VMware: slideware maker SlideRocket in April and open source email software maker Zimbra in January 2010.

9. SAS Institute and Assetlink: This acquisition (no price tag was disclosed) isn't top 10 tech M&A material unto itself, but it's important in the context of the red hot trend it represents: the move by CMOs to apply analytics to their ad campaigns, promotions, social outreaches, and other marketing programs in order to prove and refine their effectiveness. Assetlink makes "marketing resource management" software, used to plan and budget ad spending, manage the content, create workflows, and manage leads. Its acquisition by SAS, announced in February, follows like-minded deals by IBM (it shelled out $480 million for Unica in October 2010) and Teradata ($525 million for Aprimo in December 2010).

8. Dell and Force10:Dell's acquisition of switching vendor Force10 Networks (financial terms weren't disclosed), following its $960 million deal in December 2010 to acquire storage virtualization vendor Compellent Technologies, enhances its credibility as a big league data center supplier, alongside Cisco, HP, and Brocade. Force10's market share is small--just 1%, according to Dell'Oro estimates around the time of the July 2011 deal--but its technology is considered first rate and Dell will bring it to many more customers.

7. Microsoft and Skype: Among the biggest tech deals of 2001, Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype is also emblematic of one of the biggest CIO trends: the consumerization of enterprise IT. The lines between business and consumer IT are blurring, and Microsoft is looking to capitalize on that trend by integrating the consumer-oriented Skype videochat software with its enterprise unified communications and messaging platforms. Speaking of consumerization, will 2012 be the year Microsoft finally lands Yahoo?

6. Oracle and RightNow: It's almost as if Larry Ellison plunked down $1.5 billion of Oracle's money to get back at a former protege, Marc Benioff, whose and its cloud-based services have been stealing most of the thunder in enterprise software. Within weeks of his orchestrated rebuff of Benioff at the Oracle OpenWorld conference at San Francisco's Moscone Center, Ellison announced Oracle would be acquiring RightNow, a leading maker of SaaS-based customer service and management apps and a semi-competitor to Salesforce.

As my colleague Chris Murphy noted in a story on the RightNow deal, "Oracle, one of the tech industry's most acquisitive companies, isn't too concerned about overlapping products when it comes to buying into hot markets." Oracle had previously introduced its suite of enterprise software, Fusion, with a cloud-based option for CRM, as well as a hosted version of its PeopleSoft software licensed on a per-user, per-month basis.

5. and Radian6: It wasn't among the biggest of tech acquisitions in 2011, a cash and stock deal valued at about $320 million, but it's strategically important to one of the industry's hottest vendors, as pushes its "social enterprise" agenda, including its Twitter-like Chatter service. Radian6, a maker of social media monitoring and analytics services, has since become the basis of Salesforce's Social Marketing Cloud, a collection of services it rolled out in November to help companies manage their brands and engage with customers across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

4. AT&T and T-Mobile: The biggest tech deal of 2011 ($39 billion) is actually the biggest non-starter, as competitors, regulators, trustbusters, lobbyists, and politicians dig in to stop this merger of the No. 2 and No. 4 U.S. mobile carriers. AT&T said in November that it's withdrawing its merger application from the FCC to focus instead on winning the antitrust lawsuit the Department of Justice had filed against it in August. Meantime, AT&T is reportedly trying to sell a sizable portion of T-Mobile's assets to a smaller mobile carrier in order to sway the DOJ. AT&T's incentive to compromise: It will owe T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom $6 billion in cash and compensation should the deal fall apart.

3. Google and Motorola Mobility:
Google's $12.5 billion deal to acquire this Motorola spinoff, a maker of smartphones and set-top boxes, was the second-largest tech deal of 2011. As my colleague Paul McDougall reported in August, the deal, which still must pass regulatory muster, is a clear sign that Google intends to take on Apple--and to a lesser extent RIM and Microsoft/Nokia--as a supplier of tightly integrated mobile devices, namely its Android operating system on Motorola smartphone and tablet hardware.Motorola's extensive patent portfolio also appealed to Google, as it seeks to fend off Apple and Microsoft lawsuits claiming Android squats on some of its intellectual property.[ Try these best practices on for size in the new year. IT Leader Survival Guide For 2012: 5 Must-Do's. ]

2. HP and Autonomy: This $10.3 billion deal was the biggest enterprise software acquisition of the year--too big, according to many pundits, as the price tag was almost 12 times Autonomy's 2010 revenue. But HP's CEO at the time, Leo Apotheker, since ousted and replaced by Meg Whitman, needed to make a splash amid investor concerns that the hottest IT markets were passing HP by. And no question, Autonomy's no slouch. It's a leader in enterprise content management software--search, archiving, e-discovery, and more--helping customers make sense of their big (unstructured) data.

Rob Preston,
VP and Editor in Chief, InformationWeek

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How to implement a successful security and disaster recovery plan

by Philip Owens (CSO Online (Australia))

though security issues are often top of mind for many organisations, they are often not considered as part of a disaster recovery (DR) plan.

When a disaster occurs, it pays to be prepared so that the organisation can continue to operate as usual with minimal impact or disruption. Despite having sound backup strategies in place and making intelligent decisions to protect a company’s data, many organisations leave out the disaster recovery element of their security strategy which can lead to major disruptions in the event of an actual disaster.

With the recent earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan, organisations need to be aware of the impact a natural disaster could have on their organisation from a security perspective and plan accordingly.

Conduct a security audit

Many organisations believe that having basic security measures in place such as having a firewall, making backups, patching systems and having user accounts with strong passwords are sufficient. Sadly this isn’t the case.

Loss of information can be catastrophic for an organisation. If a security attack is internal, default passwords and flaws that allow you to bypass the login mechanism are weaknesses that can be used in many different ways that administrators don’t really think about or have prepared for.

Therefore it helps to know where you stand in terms of your current security measures so that you’ll be better prepared to deal with the issues should they arise in the event of a disruption – whether it is due to a data breach, natural disaster or other unplanned event . While many organisations have IT and security administrators, it’s a good idea to have an external consultant run the audit for you.

A third party provides objectivity and a fresh perspective without having a conflict of interest. In order to identify potential security threats and issues, you will need to approach this with “malicious intent” and examine both critical and non-critical systems within the organisations. This includes looking beyond the perimeters and the highly visible systems. You should ideally look at all areas of your systems, no matter how secure you might think it is.

Choose the right technology for your organisation

The type of DR security technology that's right for your organisation will be based on your need and risk. You will need to gather the right team from different departments who can take a good look at your environment and assess the risks.

DR security technology will vary from organisation to organisation. This will depend on your company’s structure, network, applications, software and the level of complexity of your information system.

When considering which technologies to deploy, it’s always worth considering one that has universal implementation and will work with any and all types of infrastructure, systems, hardware and software. This becomes critical especially when you’re working in multiple sites within the same country and overseas.

Security products that can copy the entire environment virtually so that it can be quickly and accurately replaced in the case of a disaster should also be prioritised.

To reduce the amount of time your IT system is down during a disaster consider; Recovery Point Objective (RPO) which looks at how old the data is when recovered. Ideally, the recovery should take between 15 to 30 minutes. Compare this to traditional tape backup which could take up to 24 to 48 hours. Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which looks at how fast the system can be backed up and running on the virtual environment

Cloud-based services may also be an option for some organisations, especially as they offer organisations a cost effective option which can allow them to get their data up and running quickly.

Regularly test your disaster recovery plan

The ability of the disaster recovery plan to be effective in emergency situations can only be assessed if rigorous testing is carried out one or more times per year in realistic conditions by simulating circumstances that would be applicable in an actual emergency. The testing phase of the plan must contain important verification activities to enable the plan to stand up to most disruptive events.

When disruption hits, organisations need to ensure that they take the necessary steps to respond to malware attacks and data breaches to ensure business continuity within the organisation. This includes having an incident response plan as part of your DR strategy. Doing so will enable you to take the relevant procedures to recover your data and environment.

In conclusion

Being prepared and knowing the right steps to take is always key to managing a disruption. Having good security measures included in your DR plan will help keep your organisation running through a potential disaster and ensure your risks and costs are kept to a minimum.

Philip Owens is the director of technical services, Asia Pacific for NetIQ.

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