HP's trumping of Dell's bid for 3PAR is a masterful preemptive strike. HP is certainly not that interested in 3PAR and will most likely not counter offer should Dell choose to pursue the deal. What HP is interested in is making the buy as expensive as possible for Dell in order to throw a wrench into the PC giant's further acquisitions ambitions.
HP's trumping of Dell's bid for 3PAR is a masterful preemptive strike. HP is certainly not that interested in 3PAR and will most likely not counter offer should Dell choose to pursue the deal. What HP is interested in is making the buy as expensive as possible for Dell in order to throw a wrench into the PC giant's further acquisitions ambitions.Dell has been strategically making moves to expand its business and position itself for the "cloud madness" that is inevitably going to reshape data centers. Its acquisition of Perot Systems echoed that of HP's EDS and creates a very powerful services arm for Dell. That was step No. 1.
Dell's strategic vision is to further its move into the data center space by building a converged infrastructure offering that is similar to HP's Converged Infrastructure, EMC's vBlock and Hitachi Data Systems' UCP. In order for Dell to accomplish that, it needed a strong storage offering, and 3PAR was the perfect choice. However, in order to build a converged infrastructure end to end, Dell still needs a networking partner. I, and a number of others, believe that the next target acquisition for Dell will be Brocade. That would complete the circle and transform Dell from a PC maker into a full- blown player in the data center space, competing with HP, IBM and others on all levels.
Dell with 3PAR, Brocade and Perot Systems would be perfectly positioned to help customers of all sizes move to the private cloud and eventually to the public cloud. Its consulting arm would provide the expertise required, and its fulfillment arm would provide all the hardware needed. Dell would also be able to build Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings that would allow it to host and manage organizations' infrastructures and relieve companies of the burden of building and managing data centers.
While I believe HP's move is aimed more at stopping or slowing down Dell's future acquisitions than an interest in 3PAR, make no mistake: HP would benefit from a 3PAR acquisition. HP is surely interested in 3PAR's storage virtualization offerings, and HP is well positioned to sell that line into its accounts as a means of storage consolidation. That being said, however, I think the bigger question here is, Who will get to the cloud first? The road to the cloud is surely paved with a converged infrastructure, and by bidding for 3PAR, HP slows down its rival's ability to build a true competing converged system.
OK, so HP is the chip leader and has raised Dell; the question is, Will Dell call or fold? If Dell calls the bid, it will have paid much more than it expected to for 3PAR. Or, Dell could be considering a different (less costly) acquisition -- Compellent comes to mind. The only problem there is, if Dell backs down on 3PAR, will this be a "compellent" precedent for others looking to deny Dell a storage partner?
The worst thing in all of this? My interview with 3PAR CEO David Scott at VMworld next week was canceled due to the events that unfolded this week. Thanks a lot, HP.
Elias Khnaser is the practice manager for virtualization and cloud computing at Artemis Technology, a vendor-neutral integrator focused on aligning business and IT. Follow Elias on Twitter @ekhnaser
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