Bloomberg News is reporting that HP may make an acquisition soon to counter Cisco’s move into the server market. Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Brothers, an investment bank and broker that specializes in the technology sector, told Bloomberg that Brocade and Juniper are two potential targets, along with storage vendor NetApp.
Bloomberg framed the potential acquisitions in terms of triggering revenue growth because one of HP’s bread-and-butter markets, PC sales, is contracting the the recession. However, picking up Brocade or Juniper would have tremendous strategic value for ProCurve, HP’s networking business. ProCurve is generally perceived as the number two network switching vendor, but it lacks one key element from its portfolio: high-density, high-density 10/100 Gigabit Ethernet switches. Juniper’s young family of EX switches would help HP ProCurve take a big step forward toward filling that gap. Brocade’s line of high performance switches, which it acquired with Foundry Networks last year, would also be an ideal fit.
Acquisition speculation has surrounded HP’s ProCurve business for months, ever since HP put a renewed focus on building up its networking business to compete more directly with Cisco. Cisco’s announcement of its Unified Computing System servers has only intensified the conflict between HP and Cisco. Brocade and Juniper would be two rather large acquisition targets for HP. If the company wanted to acquire 10/100 GbE expertise on the cheap, it could target some of the smaller high-performance networking vendors on the market. As GigaOM noted several months ago, Arista, Blade Network Technologies or Force10 would make a lot of sense.