Hewlett-Packard cast its proposed buyout of 3Par and its data storage know-how as a way to accelerate HP's converged data center infrastructure pitch.
Monday morning, HP launched a surprise $24 per share (or $1.6 billion) cash bid for storage company 3Par, ostensibly trumping Dell's $18 per share ($1 billion) offer announced last week. While Dell had presented its buyout as a fait accompli, it appears now that a bidding war is on.
While some data center pros see the converged infrastructure push as a positive, others still maintain that IT customers must balance the ease of dealing with fewer, bigger IT vendors against a fear of fear of vendor lock-in. Many still say it's important to keep a "short list" of competitive IT providers handy to bid for their business to keep their costs in check. Many also say it's hard for one vendor to offer the best solution across networking, computing and storage arenas.
For medium to large companies, fear of vendor lock-in is always a concern, said Bill Bradford, systems administrator for a Houston-based energy services firm.
"I would rather buy storage equipment from a company that primarily does storage, networking equipment from a company whose primary focus is on networking, and so forth," he said. "If you have it all being sold by a single company, something's going to suffer as team members get moved around between departments and divisions as the higher-ups decide that focus needs to change."
Eric Parson, senior systems support engineer for US Cellular in Schaumburg, Ill., sees value on both sides of the argument.
"One advantage of buying from one vendor is [having] that single throat to choke. 'It's your stack, guess what? It's your problem,'" Parson said. A lot of IT professionals can be "responsibility-averse. They want the problem to be their vendor's problem," Parson added.
But for himself, Parson would rather use the best solution from whatever company offers it. That sentiment plays against the converged infrastructure push espoused not only by HP, but by Cisco Systems and increasingly by Oracle, which is trying to refashion the Sun hardware franchise into a series of data center appliances.
In a Monday morning call announcing HP's offer for 3Par, HP executive vice president Dave Donatelli said 3Par will just add momentum to HP's year-old converged infrastructure push.
"Customers want to buy from fewer, larger companies that they trust," said Donatelli, who runs HP's Enterprise Servers and Storage (ESS) business.
HP hopes to blow Dell's week-old bid out of the water with this offer.
During the conference call, it emerged that HP had made a previous offer on 3Par. The IT giant has no doubt been distracted by its recent ouster of CEO Mark Hurd. Some on the conference call wanted to know if this was a deal that Hurd had rejected before he left. Steve Fieler, VP, Investor Relations for HP, did not answer that question but said, "Yes, there was a prior offer on the table."