Novell just announced an agreement to acquire PlateSpin, one of the players in the management of virtualized resources segment of the virtualization software market for $205 Million (see Sorting out the different layers of virtualization for more information on this market segment). One would have to wonder why Novell made this move since Novell already had a number of products in this space including Novell Orchestrator (see my review of this product in the post Novell’s Orchestrator).
I’ve followed PlateSpin for a number of years and have always found the pragmatic, productive approach taken by the company to be refreshing. I had an opportunity to speak with Stephen Pollack, Founder, CEO of PlateSpin, the other day. Here’s a quick summary of our conversation. PlateSpin offers products and services targeting the following systems management areas:
- Data Center Relocation
- Refresh and Consolidation
- Workload Protection for Disaster Recovery
- Application Lifecycle Optimization
What’s clear is that PlateSpin has evaluated the issues a virtualized data center creates and thought differently about the solution. In PlateSpin’s approach, only two tools are needed to accomplish all of these tasks - PowerRecon and PowerConvert.
At this point, Novell does not play in the access virtualization, application virtualization, portions of the processing virtualization, or network virtualization market. They have partnerships with quite a number of suppliers that address these markets and so, they can present a very comprehensive set of solutions. The company has also struck up a technology sharing, joint support partnership with Microsoft that has created quite a brouhaha in the Linux community that has not died down since the company made that move.
When faced with the challenges of extending its reach, most suppliers have to evaluate several paths and select the one that appears most promising. I suspect that folks in Novell's strategic planning group had to evaluate each of the following paths.
It's not at all clear at this point, whether this acquistion was a good move. The key questions that remain to be answered are:
Novell has turned to acquistion many times in the past and had to deal with the issues of different development standards and corporate cultures in order to build a unified product portfolio. I won't drag out a list of acquitions but, needless to say, Novell has only had mixed success with this strategy. (Remember UnixWare, Novell's proposed solution to a fragmented UNIX market?) They've acquired companies at a premium price only to sell them at a lower price later. They've acquired companies that were innovators in key market segments and then let the people who created that success leave to found other companies.
I wish them well, but only time will answer those questions.