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Acquisitions come in various shades of sense. There are some acquisitions which are simply about asset stripping or which are just about taking out administrative costs. But most often the products or services of the acquiree are seen as complementary to, or synergistic with, those of the acquirer. A notable recent exception to this rule would be Broadcom’s acquisition of CA, for which I can find little rhyme or reason.
However, even when acquired products are synergistic with those of the acquiring company, there is usually some degree of overlap between the two product sets (Qlik’s acquisition of Podium Data is an example), which can often take years to disappear completely. So, there is a significant potential advantage to acquiring products that are complementary but do not overlap or compete with existing offerings. This is what SentryOne has managed to achieve through its acquisition of Pragmatic Works Software.
In case you don’t know what SentryOne (previously SQL Sentry) does – which is entirely possible, for reasons I will explain in a moment, it provides software products that help administrators monitor and optimise the performance of Microsoft-based database environments (SQL Server, Azure and so forth). However, if you are a Microsoft shop you are five times more likely to be using a SentryOne product than to know about it. This is because of the company’s Plan Explorer software, which provides query analysis and tuning of Microsoft databases but, according to SentryOne’s own research, only 20% of users of Plan Explorer know that SentryOne developed it. So, anyway, that is (or was) SentryOne.
As far as Pragmatic Works Software is (was) concerned it has concentrated upon providing development and testing tools for the same sort of Microsoft deployments but specifically within the context of business intelligence and analytic applications. So, you can see how the two product sets are complementary but not overlapping.
You might think that this was serendipitous. But that is not actually the case. It turns out that the founders of the two companies are friends and agreed early on not to compete with one another. Whether they also agreed about who might take over who’s company I do not know.
So, the acquisition of Pragmatic Works by SentryOne is entirely sensible. Often when I make that sort of remark I have to put in caveats, but not this time. The expression “no-brainer” comes to mind. I have written about the results of this acquisition in more detail elsewhere (see here) but the resulting combined company should be a formidable player in the entire dev/test and monitoring space.