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BMC eats Tideway for discovery tools

Acquire or be acquired

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Systems management software maker BMC Software continues to snap up other software players as it bulks up to do battle with the likes of IBM, CA, Hewlett-Packard, and now EMC in its chosen market. Today, the company paid an undisclosed amount to acquire British software company and BMC-partner Tideway Systems.

Tideway, which gets its name from the 100-mile portion of the River Thames in England that is subject to tides, was founded in 2002 and did a major revamp of its Foundation discovery tool with V7.0. The Foundation tool can crawl around the network inside of a company (with permission, of course) and then build a topological map of the interconnected systems and software than can then be viewed in terms of infrastructure layers (which is how IT managers think about IT stuff) or by business units and their operations (which is how business managers avoid thinking about IT stuff).

Tideway is privately held, and the financial details of the acquisition were not divulged.

According to a spokesperson for BMC, Tideway's Foundation discovery tools are already in use at many of the shops that have deployed BMC's Atrium Configuration Management Database (CMDB), a repository that adheres to the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard that is taking the system administration market by storm and that was created by the United Kingdom's Office of Government Commerce two decades ago.

Tideway has around 70 employees, and a spokesperson for BMC says that after the deal closes, possibly by the end of this week, BMC will endeavor to retain the employees of Tideway and keep its offices open in London. There is no word on whether Richard Muirhead, Tideway's chief executive officer, will stay on. The Tideway business will be tucked up into the Atrium business unit at BMC once the deal closes.

Tideway punted a freebie community edition version of its Foundation product last November in an effort to get a little word-of-mouth marketing, and according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, it had attained 10,000 downloads of this freebie product in the ten months that product was out, and sales of the Foundation product were on the rise. (The WSJ estimated that Tideway had annual revenues on the order of $12m.) It looks like Tideway has gotten tired of losing out deals to the big boys and that BMC wants to make sure it stays one itself. Hence the acquisition.

The Tideway acquisition follows BMC's acquisition in August of message queuing maven MQSoftware (also for an undisclosed sum), and as I said back then, with BMC sitting on $1.3bn in cash, it needs to eat or be eaten. Since that time, the company's market capitalization has grown by $730m to just under $7.1bn, not the least of which due to its affiliation with Cisco Systems' first foray into servers. (BMC's BladeLogic software, which it got from an $800m acquisition back in March 2008, is the application management software tool in the "California" Unified Computing System).

Expect more acquisitions from BMC and don't expect anyone to pony up the $10bn or so it would probably cost to buy BMC. But if anyone should, it should probably be either Cisco or Oracle. ®

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