Will Oracle Buy Informatica Next?

Ever-acquisitive Oracle may place data integration specialist Informatica in its sights next, according to a recent pair of surveys.

By Chris Kanaracus
Fri, September 10, 2010

IDG News Service — Ever-acquisitive Oracle (ORCL) may place data integration specialist Informatica in its sights next, according to a recent pair of surveys.

Informatica was the top choice for Oracle's next purchase among those who answered a poll run by the advisory firm Software Advice over the past couple of months, garnering 178 of some 1,250 picks received. It was followed closely by Teradata, with 175 votes, and VMware (VMW), which scooped up 143.

Meanwhile, the roughly 250 respondents to a similar poll run by Dennis Moore, a prominent blogger on enterprise software issues, have so far "overwhelmingly" picked Informatica, Moore said in a blog post Thursday.

Informatica would be far from a minor tuck-in acquisition for Oracle, as it is one of the industry's largest remaining independent data integration vendors, with US$500.7 million in reported revenue during 2009 and a market capitalization of about $3.2 billion on Friday.

Oracle and Informatica could not immediately be reached for comment Friday on such speculation, which has occurred on and off in recent years.

Other industry observers downplayed the polls' results.

For one, there's too much overlap between the vendors' product portfolios, according to Forrester Research analyst Rob Karel. In addition, "acquiring Informatica would be a big admission of failure on Oracle's part, pretty much abandoning the data integration path they've taken since they acquired Sunopsis in 2006, and throwing away the investments they've made in integrating [Oracle Data Integrator] into their middleware portfolio," he said via e-mail.

But it would be unwise to rule out the possibility of Oracle buying Informatica, Karel added.

"Oracle is one of the few companies that could actually afford Informatica's multi-billion dollar price tag, and many of their existing database and apps customers standardize on Informatica," he said. While such a deal would require "a lot of portfolio juggling" and tough choices about what to do with overlapping products, it's not out of the question, he said.

It's most likely that Oracle would pick up Informatica for its installed base as well as to keep the company away from other suitors, Karel said.

Another observer expressed much the same view.

"Informatica is a great target for anyone, but the amount of overlap with Oracle's business suggests that any acquisition would be more about removing a competitor from the field than strategic advancement," said Merv Adrian of IT Market Strategy, via e-mail. "I believe Oracle's next move will be in hardware, not software."

Indeed, it might make more sense for Oracle to pick up a networking vendor like Juniper Networks (JNPR) or a systems integrator, given its push into hardware with the acquisition of Sun Microsystems (JAVA), said Altimeter Group analyst Ray Wang.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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