Managing merger mania

Oracle gobbles up Siebel (buuurp). Sun swallows StorageTek (slurp). Adobe feasts on Macromedia (brrrap). And let's not forget Sprint and Nextel's $35 billion hookup, eBay's purchase of Skype, the Symantec-Veritas wedding, or scores of other megabuck deals that are roiling today's enterprise market. Yep, tech companies have suddenly come down with a whopping case of the consolidation crazies. But disruption can be minimized by maintaining close contact with your vendor.

Savvy IT managers can also improve their odds by insisting on open standards, making it easier to find a substitute should a relied-upon infrastructure vendor find itself on one of the big boys' dinner plates. This approach is especially useful if IT is engaging in the kind of interesting, innovative projects that can deliver competitive advantage -- using, say, Web services or other less mature technologies. In those cases, they'll inevitably be investing in software from smaller, less established companies. And those are precisely the kinds of companies that get acquired. Think I'm overstating the case?

Consider a typical five-day period from last week. Ericsson agreed to buy most of Marconi; Tibco snagged Velosel (master data management); Oracle binged on G-Log (transportation management); EMC captured Captiva (input management); Tata cashed in on Financial Network Services (banking software); and HP sliced up blade management vendor RLX Technologies. Not all household names, I grant you, but you can bet all those deals sent IT managers into a dead fright.

And remember, that was the week before Halloween. Something tells me that the corporate trick-or-treat loot bag isn't full just yet.

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