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HP eats Mercury

It's a good match - but might stll prove indigestible.

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So, HP has paid a small fortune for “tarnished” Mercury Software, has it? Perhaps it has got a bargain, as Mercury's technology is excellent and it has a good reputation for "Business Technology Optimisation" (aka "testing", in the widest possible sense) in big companies.

I was impressed recently by its latest change management tool, which seemed to cope well with the complexity of delivering a portfolio of automated systems. And HP Openview, of course, provides an extremely complementary application management framework to Mercury's tools.

This acquisition is another example of “ALM consolidation” and I think we may see more of it. The application lifecycle (there's probably a more fashionable name for it now) as a whole is increasingly seen as encompassing IT Operations and IT governance as part of a holistic service delivered to the business. And, of course, acquiring Mercury adds more power to HP's recent focus on IT Governance (see the article here – Mercury has the tools needed to manage some of those important governance metrics.

Is it, as our Gavin Clarke puts it, a "massive pebble" thrown into the water for smaller companies in this space, such as Borland Software? Well, yes, it is; but I was talking about this with Corne Human (Regional Product Line Manager (EMEA) for Borland's Requirements Definition and Management solutions) of Borland yesterday andg he seemed interested rather than bothered.

I suspect that the effort of digesting Mercury may take the heat off smaller competitors for a while - after all Compaq proved a little indigestible, I think. All too often, the real issues with the acquiring of a technology company turn out to be cultural and political, rather than technological. ®

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