Name one of the big vendors who hasn't had a huge restructuring, merger, or acquisition lately. I'm talking specifically about Dell/EMC, The new HP Enterprise, and Cisco. It's been a very active past few months in the news for them. So what exactly has been going on, and more importantly, why? Is there a common link between all these deals? I believe the answer is yes.
Dell has always primarily been a PC vendor, with a sizable server business as well. But their merger with EMC has brought them a humongous server and storage business, along with a few other hidden gems. Notably, EMC's security unit, RSA, and a controlling share of VMware.
HP has undergone a huge restructuring, separating its PC and printer business from its enterprise offerings. Whether the split was intended to draw a line in the ledger between the enormous cash flow of the personal business and the anchor that was enterprise services — or to simply better serve corporate clients — remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure: HPE is clearly grasping at relevance in the modern era of enterprise technology with service offerings centered around infrastructure, security, and data.
If you look at Cisco's recent acquisitions, nearly half of them are focused on one specific market opportunity: security. The other half, on software and cloud services. The most notable being the acquisition of OpenDNS. Cisco is gaining much more than domain name servers here — they're gaining threat protection and intelligence via a cloud-based platform.
Meanwhile at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft...
The three tech giants are largely focusing their efforts on cloud computing. Amazon and Google have been full-steam-ahead with their cloud business from day one. Microsoft floundered for a few years, but has done an unexpectedly good job of building its cloud, known as Azure.
So Have They Gone Crazy?
Many would argue that in light of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft's well planned, now mature cloud businesses, Dell, HP and Cisco are on a path to self destruction. They all have invested significantly in infrastructure that is never likely to scale in the way viable cloud infrastructure needs to. Based on the future outlook of cloud computing, their moves appear desperate.
But there's another common link in this picture that is getting less attention: security. While the big vendors may have missed the mark on cloud offerings, I would not argue they're fading into irrelevance. Cybersecurity is an exploding field that is becoming more important in the enterprise each day. Each of these vendors strategically has invested in a strong security component. For Dell, its RSA. HPE highlights security as one of its flagship services. Cisco with OpenDNS and a half-dozen other security acquisitions.
As we see cloud computing start to mature in 2016, its important to stay focused on the next big thing: security. Cloud or no cloud, security is essential and will continue to skyrocket for the next few years. While investments in expensive infrastructure make for a poor shot at the cloud business, any investment in security is a smart move.