#6: IBM should buy Juniper. The companies have gotten to know each other well as partners, and Juniper's battled valiantly to offer global organizations a viable or even superior alternative to Cisco's wide-ranging networking technologies. But scale is becoming more vital than ever, and a marriage of Juniper's powerful gear plus IBM's middleware and increasingly potent systems could give an IBM an advantage beyond what any other top-end competitor—Cisco, HP, or Oracle—could offer.
#5: Oracle should buy Arista. Founded by legendary technologist and long-time Sun executive Andy Bechtolsheim, Arista has been getting a ton of attention lately from large companies because it seems to be fulfilling its promise to deliver a switching performance that is massively faster, simpler to manage, and less expensive than traditional approaches. There would likely be some very nice optimized-engineering possibilities with the Sun systems and storage now owned by Oracle, and a play in the advanced switching business would underscore Larry Ellison's vow to beat IBM in high-end optimized systems.
#4: Hewlett-Packard should buy Teradata. I realize there's some competition with HP's NeoView but Teradata would give HP a powerful and deep presence in the white-hot field for specialized high-end integrated machines. Teradata has always drawn high marks from customers but, like some other theoretical targets on this list, is facing a future where its ability to scale to the increasingly demanding levels of customers while also staying abreast of competitors in the high-performance IT arms race will be sorely tested.
#3: EMC should buy NetApp. EMC's coming off a very powerful quarter and offered a bullish outlook for the coming year (see Global CIO: EMC Embraces Cloud And Says It Loud With Huge Q1. As EMC has broadened its profile into an information-management company offering security, content management, and virtualization technologies in addition to its core storage products, NetApp has continued to crank out some of the world's most powerful and well-respected storage products, technologies, and strategies. EMC needs to get bigger if it hopes to be able to compete for large-scale deals with HP, IBM, and Oracle.
#2: SAP should buy Informatica. Informatica's an outstanding company that's growing rapidly and winning larger and larger deals from an increasingly blue-chip set of global corporations and public-sector clientele. SAP's new management is showing lots of signs of being willing to shake things up across the company and is looking to offer big-company CIOs more ways to assess, collect, analyze, and extract value from information. Informatica's data-integration and data-quality products and technologies are just about unmatched and would be a huge boon to SAP in multivendor (that is, all) environments.
And now, I've saved the craziest combo for last: