Could Big Blue Buy Bocada?

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With competition always fierce in the market for protecting corporate data, acquisitions can help a company leapfrog past its rivals.

IBM could jump into the data protection management market feet first by buying partner Bocada, ratcheting up its competition with EMC, which plays in the data protection market (DPM) space thanks to an original equipment manufacturing (OEM) deal it inked in September of 2005.

IBM chose not to answer with a purchase at the time, but a lot has changed since then, including the arrival of Symantec in the market.

Bocada makes Enterprise 4, a data protection management software suite that automatically detects the root cause of service failures, pinpoints problems and provides a detailed history of backup services to meet compliance requirements.

Bocada serves customers concerned about keeping their data secure and unaltered at a time when corporate compliance regulations require data to be stored and retrieved on demand. Bocada’s software also creates an audit trail to define who has accessed what.

Bocada boasts more than 400 customers across several different verticals, including Target, Chevron and J.P. MorganChase

The company has been quiet since making that announcement in December, prompting speculation in recent weeks that the company is in some sort of negotiation that could determine its fate.

An IBM spokesperson said the company does not comment on market rumors.

However, Nancy Hurley, vice president of marketing for Bocada, said Bocada will be announcing a new strategic path, including partners that will help facilitate Bocada along that road, as well as a product roadmap later this month.

Moreover, the company plans to follow that up with the revision of Enterprise 5 in April, Hurley said.

The timing couldn’t be better in the DPM space.

WysDM, whose software is sold by EMC as Backup Advisor thanks to an OEM deal, has grabbed more than 250 customers since the deal was signed more than a year ago. This is a ten-fold increase, according to a report from The 451 Group analyst Simon Robinson.

EMC’s growing strength in data protection management may be reason enough for IBM to purchase Bocada, according to Arun Taneja, founding analyst of the Taneja Group.

“Based on EMC’s success in selling WysDM software and Aptare and others doing well, it has become apparent that the DPM software is indeed appreciated by IT. IBM could easily use it with TSM [Tivoli Storage Manager],” Taneja said.

To be clear, Bocada has had a relationship with IBM Global Services for years. Hurley said Big Blue offers Bocada’s DPM software whenever it sells backup services.

“The delivery mechanism and the management of those services is done with Bocada,” Hurley said. “They use it as the implementation solution when they sell services.”

Clearly, IBM has had time to pursue due diligence, one of the key stepping stones that can pave the way to an acquisition. In buying Bocada, IBM would be choosing from among a handful of smaller vendors such as Crosswalk, Illuminator, Tek-Tools and even WysDM.

However, power players such as Symantec and CA have been touting backup and reporting tools for years, albeit as part of larger storage software suites.

But the space is heating up: Symantec just launched Veritas Backup Reporter 6.0, which seeks to fortify backup and recovery operations, instill backup service level compliance and run backup as an IT service.

Moreover, IBM is too proud a company to let EMC eat up market share in areas it prizes so highly.

Recall when EMC took the lead in the enterprise content management market from IBM by buying Documentum and Captiva, IBM picked up the gauntlet by buying FileNet last year, reclaiming the market lead.

Some industry experts find the prospect of an IBM-Bocada marriage intriguing.

WysDM CEO Allan Atkinson said IBM joining data protection management full tilt would shed more light on an already bright market. “The space consolidating and getting bigger and having the big boys in is nothing but good for us,” said Atkinson.

He added, “IBM isn’t in the game right now; EMC is via an OEM (WysDM), right? And we now have Symantec in the game, so it really makes a lot of sense to me that HP and IBM would want to get in it. The bigger you make this space right now, the elbow curve goes up.”

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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