Have multiple acquisitions left the industry too narrow for 2010?

News by Dan Raywood

The acquisition was the name of the game in 2009 as large companies moved in on niche businesses.

The acquisition was the name of the game in 2009 as large companies moved in on niche businesses.

Whether it was Cisco acquiring ScanSafe, IBM taking over Guardium, McAfee completing the acquisition of MX Logic or the ongoing dilemma of Oracle's move for Sun Microsystems, 2010 will see the marketplace as slightly narrower than this time last year.

The acquisition of Guardium by IBM was welcomed by Steve Moyle, co-founder and CTO at Secerno, who claimed that the deal was ‘been followed with great interest by those of us in the database security industry' as the timing was interesting.

Moyle said: “With this acquisition, we see database activity and transaction monitoring becoming central to any organisation's security plan. In the coming years, not having real-time knowledge of your database's activities and the ability to block threats will seem antiquated – almost like a company not having a firewall. We welcome this next phase of the security industry – and it's been a long time coming.”

However there was not an overall positive view of acquisitions, Richard Betts, EMEA technical director of Big Fix claimed that there is a problem caused with a lack of innovation in the acquired technology.

He said: “All of the effort goes into doing the processes so the innovation drops, but then a year later they see the sales figures have dropped. A good acquisition example was by EMC of VMware, get it and leave it alone. It is great to acquire but how to integrate? It is better to integrate into a single company. This is why we have partnerships without interfering.”

Gerhard Eschelbeck, chief technology officer at Webroot, said that many large vendors have ‘track records of poorly integrating smaller companies after acquiring them for a key piece of technology'.

He said: “In 2009, we saw Symantec acquire MessageLabs, M86 acquire Finjan and Barracuda acquire Purewire. At the end of this year, we're left asking, will true innovation now only be possible among the few independent vendors remaining?”

I asked Mike Bienvenu, technical director of distributor Softek whether the amount of acquisitions was leaving his side of the industry with fewer vendors to work with. He said that this was not the case, as he did not see this being a problem across the spectrum.

He said: “We have two endpoint providers for the enterprise and application, so the market will expand and we will see legislation in the next 12-24 months and FSA regulations. Mostly our providers are best of breed so lesser companies do not come across us.”

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