Measuring the Mercury deal

When rumours of a possible buyout of Mercury Interactive by HP started doing the rounds back in May, I described the prospective deal as "a bit whiffy".

When rumours of a possible buyout of Mercury Interactive by HP started doing the rounds back in May, I described the prospective deal as "a bit whiffy".

Apparently, the lingering stench wasn't enough to dissuade HP, which earlier this week laid out a cool US$4.5 billion to buy the application development management specialist.

That's a billion dollars more than the original numbers being whacked around, which might explain why the proposal has taken a while to crystallise.

There still seems to me to be a rather big potential conflict of interest in this deal -- given HP's presence in so many other software and hardware areas, the independence of any testing and measurement by the Mercury products could be in some doubt.

HP, however, is talking up the potential of becoming an ever-bigger software player, jumping on the same industry consolidation bandwagon that has consumed everyone over the past few years.

For IT buyers, this can mean economies of scale and easier integration, but it can also mean sharply limited choice.

The next big question, though, is how well and how quickly HP can integrate Mercury into its overall business and present a unified vision that ties its OpenView platform in with Mercury's tools range. Hopefully the process will be quicker, cleaner and less confusing than the infamous Compaq merger.

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