BMC adds to automation capabilities

by Brenon Daly

BMC Software hopes its latest purchase will make life easier for database administrators (DBAs) and systems operations. The management giant on Friday picked up longtime partner GridApp Systems, adding the startup’s database automation offering to its broader automation and management portfolio. GridApp automates tasks such as database provisioning and patching – mundane and time-consuming chores for DBAs, but ones that are critical for security and compliance reasons. Additionally, it enhances BMC’s full-stack automation capabilities.

The importance of this technology was highlighted (in part, at least) by another acquisition earlier this year. In late August, Hewlett-Packard reached for Stratavia, a startup that had begun life as a database management vendor but expanded into application-layer automation as well. (Pacific Crest Securities advised Stratavia, while GrowthPoint Technology Partners banked GridApp.) Even if the technology in the two deals doesn’t line up exactly, we understand that the valuations are nearly identical. Both GridApp and Stratavia, which were small, nonetheless garnered a 10 times multiple.

‘You bought what? For how much?’

Contact: Brenon Daly

In both of the largest enterprise IT acquisitions so far this year, the deals are not what they seem. Or more accurately, the target companies were not acquired for what they are. What do we mean? Well, we would posit that Intel didn’t buy McAfee for its core security applications any more than SAP scooped up Sybase for its core database product. Instead, in each case, the buyers really only wanted a small part of the business but found themselves nonetheless writing multibillion-dollar checks for a whole company.

For SAP, the apps giant really wanted Sybase’s mobile technology, essentially using the Sybase Unwired Platform to ‘mobilize’ all of its offerings. It’s nice that the purchase also brought along some data-management capabilities, particularly some pretty slick in-memory database technology. But for SAP, this deal was all about getting its apps onto mobile devices. However, Sybase’s mobile business only generated about one-third of total revenue at the company. So SAP ends up handing over $5.8bn in cash for a business that’s currently running at just $400m.

If anything, Intel is paying even more for the business that it truly wanted – or, at least, the business that’s most relevant – at McAfee: embedded security. Yet that’s only a small (undisclosed) portion of the roughly $2bn revenue at McAfee, the largest stand-alone security vendor. Tellingly, Intel plans to operate as a kind of holding company, letting McAfee continue undisturbed with its business of selling security applications to businesses and consumers.