As we run down the biggest acquisitions of 2015 in the SDxCentral universe, it’s no surprise which one tops the list, even in a year of some huge, surprising deals. So to recap the year in M&A (and one non-acquisition), let’s start with No. 1 and work our way down.
If it happens, the $67 billion merger would be the largest technology deal in history. It would bring together some powerful, complementary assets: Dell’s core server, EMC’s storage, and maybe most importantly, VMware’s virtualization franchise.
The deal itself is complicated. “There are enough financial mechanics in play to confuse even the most adept Harvard Business School candidate,” SDxCentral analyst Scott Raynovich says. If it succeeds, then vendors such as HPE and Juniper Networks will be dealing with a bigger threat than Dell and EMC as standalone companies.
The $17.1 billion deal’s biggest implications are in the mobile network. Together, Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent hold a 29 percent market share in mobile radio access network equipment, compared to Ericsson with 33 percent and Huawei with 24 percent last year, according to Dell’Oro Group. But from the SDN and NFV perspective, the fate of Nuage, an Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary, is of more concern. It’s unclear whether Nokia will leave Nuage to its own devices or meddle in the company’s virtualization work.
3. Ericsson/Cisco [Partnership]
Perhaps this union announced in November, doesn’t even belong on this list. The arrangement in which Ericsson will resell Cisco’s routers and networking is definitely a non-merger. However, it does ally two big players in response to the Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent marriage.
Ciena purchased Cyan for roughly $335 million, and Cyan’s Blue Planet division with its SDN orchestration tool should be a plum for Ciena. Soon after the acquisition, Blue Planet announced it was using containers within its network orchestration software for service providers.
The division has already added two Tier 1 customers since its acquisition, bringing the total number of Blue Planet customers to eight. But curb your enthusiasm: “We’ve made it clear we believe Blue Planet will not be a significant revenue driver in 2016. We view 2016 as a foundational year for Blue Planet,” Ciena CEO Gary Smith said on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call this month.
5. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)/ConteXtream
One of the early network virtualization startups, ConteXtream uses an OpenDaylight-based SDN controller, and its technology is designed to help service providers deploy NFV. HPE, which acquired the startup midyear, is making a big push into NFV with its OpenNFV initiative, in which it’s trying to create an entire NFV reference architecture.
This one makes our list because of the $37 billion size and because Broadcom is a Silicon Valley original. After the transaction closes, the combined company will be based in Avago’s headquarters in Singapore but will keep Broadcom’s name.
If we include Avago and Broadcom, we must also include Intel’s acquisition of chipmaker Altera for $16.7 billion. From an SDxCentral perspective, this consolidation in the chips industry is only tangentially interesting, but a few product lines are relevant.
8. Mellanox/EZchip [Still in Progress]
Activist shareholders have added a lot of drama to Mellanox’s attempts to acquire EZchip, a company that sells the packet-processing chips within routers. Personally, I had to unsubscribe from all the news releases urging shareholders to vote for this and vote for that. Last we heard, EZchip’s “go shop” period had expired, meaning shareholders will vote on the $620 million (net of cash) Mellanox offer on Jan. 19.
Infinera bought Transmode for about $350 million. Previously, almost everything Infinera did was based on its photonic integrated circuit (PIC). Transmode has a small portfolio of metro products, so this $350 million deal gives Infinera some diversification.
In March Docker purchased the hotshot startup Socketplane, which had only existed for mere months. The question of how to best network Linux containers is getting a lot of attention, and this is Docker’s entree into that field.