The Security Buyout Binge Starts Again

What do you get for the guy that already has everything?

That's the problem facing storage giant EMC (NYS: EMC) nowadays. Spirited competition from NetApp (NAS: NTAP) and others notwithstanding, EMC dominates the market for storage systems. Moreover, the company has a big hand in systems software through its majority ownership of VMware (NYS: VMW) .

EMC's sales are growing at about 20% year over year and earnings are rising about twice as fast. So there's nothing wrong with the current model. But what if EMC could get even better?

The German edition of Financial Times had a talk with EMC CEO Joe Tucci to find out more about his growth plans. And just like Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) , Tucci plans to stoke the fires with software.

"We won't give you exact figures, but the bulk of our sales growth in the future will come from software," he told the business paper. "The security, storage, data protection, virtualization and data analysis markets are growing much faster than the average IT market." Yep, he just named all five divisions of his sprawling company.

But software is where it's at, Tucci says. Only 350 of EMC's 16,000 engineers are working on hardware products at the moment, and the rest are essentially writing code. They can't do it all, though: "It would be negligent to believe that they could invent everything on their own," so sometimes it makes sense to buy great technology rather than reinventing the wheel.

EMC is the fifth-largest security software seller according to Gartner, and Tucci isn't satisfied with such a modest market share. So he's likely to go shopping in that sector in the next couple of years.

That goal paints buyout targets on the backs of small but strong security specialists such as Sourcefire (NAS: FIRE) and Blue Coat Systems (NAS: BCSI) . If Tucci feels especially audacious, he might even reach for Fortinet (NAS: FTNT) in a much bigger deal.

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At the time thisarticle was published

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