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CA eats Nimsoft cloud watcher

Acquisition binge continues

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Systems software seller CA is shelling out $350m in cash to buy Nimsoft, an outfit that makes monitoring tools for managed service providers - aka cloud providers.

The move makes a certain amount of sense, given that CA's multi-decade business has been based on selling software for running and monitoring transactions, managing distributed networks of machines and securing the hodge-podge mess. If a certain portion of computing is indeed going to move out to cloudy infrastructure (in semi-private or public clouds) or be installed on internal clouds (which will nonetheless need to be monitored and managed, perhaps as a remote service), then CA needs something to sell.

Enter Nimsoft, a privately held company just down the road from Oracle in Redwood City, California and very likely a takeover target that more than a few companies (including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, BMC Software, and maybe even EMC) have been thinking about snapping up. Nimbus Software was founded in Oslo, Norway in 1998 by Anders Grindland, still the company's chairman, and Dag Lund, who still sits on the board. In 2004 the company merged with its US distributor, and the founder of that distie, Gary Read, became the company's chief executive officer. The company's name was changed to Nimsoft and it moved its headquarters to Silicon Gulch.

Grindland and Lund steer the company along with Read and representatives from JMI Equity, Northzone Ventures and Goldman Sachs, who have collectively kicked in $22.3m in two rounds of venture capital in January 2007 and October 2008. Nimsoft is privately held, with about 1,000 customers using its systems monitoring and management tools, according to its own Website, but only 800 according to CA. Of those 800 that CA identified during its due diligence, 300 are managed service providers, mostly in the US and Europe.

Last October, the company rolled out a new integrated suite of products called Unified Monitoring, the main reason why CA is interested in Nimsoft. The Unified Monitoring suite doesn't just babysit all the physical and virtual stuff humming away in the data center, but also Amazon EC2 and Rackspace Cloud compute and storage utilities, Salesforce.com CRM software and Google Apps for Business. It doesn't hurt that since 2004 the company has been able to grow revenues in the high double digits either. No word on whether Nimsoft is profitable.

CA plans to tuck Nimsoft into its Cloud Products and Solutions Business, where it also plans to put 3Tera, a company CA is in the process of acquiring as well. (Related acquisitions include Cassatt, NetQoS, and Oblicore). All of the 120 employees of Nimsoft will move over to CA, and the all-cash deal is expected to close by the end of March. CA says that the acquisition will have a minimal impact on its fiscal 2010 results. That would seem to imply that CA is paying a very big premium for Nimsoft and that the company is not yet profitable but right at the point where it could soon be. That would mean the company would be more expensive to acquire a year from now.

Will CA change its name to Nimbus Software and get rid of the silly abbreviation as its official name? The company changed its name from Computer Associates to shed associations with past financial shenanigans from its founder, Charles Wang. If the future is indeed clouds, what better name than Nimbus? ®

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