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The out-of-the-blue Broadcom acquisition of CA Technologies has analysts scratching their heads about how the two companies' diverse portfolios weave together strategically, and how customers might feel the impacts -- beneficial or otherwise.
CA's strength in mainframe and enterprise infrastructure software, the latter of which is a growing but fragmented market, gives chipmaker Broadcom another building block to create an across-the-board infrastructure technology company, stated Hock Tan, president and CEO of Broadcom.
But vaguely worded statements from both companies' execs lent little insight into potential synergies and strategic short- or long-term goals of the $18.9 billion deal.
One analyst believes the deal is driven primarily by financial and operational incentives, and whatever technology synergies the two companies create are a secondary consideration for now.
"The operating margins from mainframes are very healthy and that fits very well with Broadcom's financial model," said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC.
The bigger issue will be Broadcom's ability to manage the diverse software portfolio of a company the size of CA. To date, Broadcom's acquisition strategy has focused almost exclusively on massive deals for hardware companies, in areas such as storage, wireless LAN and networking. "The question is, is this too far of a reach for them? Customers are going to have to watch this closely," Elliot said.
The overall track record of acquisitions that combine hardware-focused companies and large software companies is not good, Elliot noted. He pointed to the failures of Intel's acquisition of LANDesk and Symantec's purchase of Veritas.
Broadcom's ability to manage CA's complex and interwoven product portfolio is another concern.
Stephen Elliotanalyst, IDC
"As far as I can see, Broadcom has little or no visible prior execution or knowledge about a complicated and nuanced software and technology arena such as the one CA addresses ... that includes DevOps, agile and security," said Melinda Ballou, research director for IDC's application life-cycle management program. "Infrastructure management would be more in their line of work, but still very different."
Broadcom's acquisition of CA also fills a need to diversify, particularly in the aftermath of its failed attempt to buy Qualcomm earlier this year, which was blocked by the Trump administration for national security reasons.
"They need to diversify their offerings to be more competitive given they primarily focus on chips, networking and the hardware space," said Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates LLC. "CA has done a lot of work on the operational and analytics side, so maybe [Broadcom] is looking at that as a springboard into the software enablement space."
Hurwitz does see opportunities for both companies to combine their respective products, particularly in network management and IoT security. And perhaps this deal portends more acquisitions will follow, potentially among companies that compete directly or indirectly with CA. Both Broadcom and CA have pursued growth through numerous acquisitions in recent years.
"You could anticipate Broadcom goes on a spending spree, going after other companies that are adjacent to what CA does," Hurwitz said. "For example, there was talk earlier this year that CA and BMC would merge, so BMC could be a logical step with some synergy there."