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Global CIO: HP's Next Two Multibillion-Dollar Acquisition Targets

HP needs to create a unique and unmatched market position playing to its strengths, and these two companies can put HP over the top.
1) IBM: By size and product breadth, these two are fairly close. IBM certainly was uppermost on the mind of HP's former CEO, and it will surely take up a lot of brain cycles for the new CEO as well. But IBM is a very different kind of company than HP, and IBM's brilliant "Smarter Planet" strategy gives it a cohesive and unifying theme as it moves forward with a broad and diverse set of products and services. HP's new CEO needs to deliver to HP its own unifying theme.

2) Dell: Interesting that this morning HP crashed Dell's acquisition party for 3Par with a higher offer. Traditionally HP's archrival in PCs, Dell has clearly been trying to fortify its capabilities in storage and looked at 3Par as essential for that.

3) EMC: This is where I think HP's headed: into EMC's wheelhouse of storage and the entire management of the information explosion. HP's plans are bigger and broader than that, but I think is at the core.

4) Cisco: Here's the second of the three companies at the center of the HP dartboard, and the explosive growth in HP's networking business with its integration of 3Com will surely make the head-to-head competition with Cisco not only intense but also disruptive to the entire IT business.

5) Oracle: Recall that it was HP's hardware that formed the core of Oracle's original Exadata machine 20 months ago, and that Oracle shortly thereafter dumped HP in favor of Sun when Oracle decided to acquire it. So there'll be plenty of head-banging going on between these two companies for some accounts and hardware sales, but I don't see Oracle as a dead-center target for HP.

6) CA Technologies: HP's smallest business unit is its Software Group, although with annual revenue of about $3.5 billion, HP Software is anything but small. Last week's announcement of the Fortify deal helps boost its security presence, but its core is also the management of data centers and global IT infrastructures—and that's exactly where CA Technologies plays.

7) India-based IT services companies: HP said that its services revenue (from the former EDS) grew only 1% in the third quarter, the company saw record bookings for new and expanded business in the quarter as well, which interim CEO Cathy Lesjak says should be revealed later this year and into next as very nice growth. The problem for HP is that while services is still a part of what it does, services are the only thing that Cognizant and Wipro and Infosys and the India-based services companies do, and they're growing faster, developing new skills and capabilities, and advancing new types of business value to their customers at a right that HP will be hard-pressed to match. HP just might look to make a high-profile acquisition here.

So by my reckoning, HP's primary competitors are EMC, Cisco, and CA Technologies. HP seems most eager to drive more deeply into storage and servers, networking, and enterprise management, and while a Cisco deal is probably beyond the realm of reasonable speculation, CA Technologies and EMC look to be exactly the types of companies in which HP's interest is peaking.

EMC brings enormous competence in storage technologies and customers and market share, along with increased presence in enterprise security and perhaps most valuable of all a huge ownership stake in VMware, giving HP enormous gains virtualization and cloud computing.

CA Technologies would enhance the management of all that profoundly complex and important hardware and software and cement its reputation as a company quite distinct and quite separate from IBM, Cisco, and Oracle.

We'll see what HP's new CEO thinks, but it is certain that 12 months from today, HP will be a markedly different type of company than it is today.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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Global CIO: Are Oracle, HP, Cisco & IBM Too Big To Innovate?

Global CIO: IBM Claims Hardware Supremacy And Calls Out HP's Hurd

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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].