Coronavirus fails to stop consolidation trend


Deals are still being done as firms look beyond the current crisis to secure a stronger future for their businesses.

The coronavirus has brought a halt to many things, but it has not prevented consolidation in the channel from continuing at a steady pace.

With an eye on the future, firms are moving to make sure they have access to the skills and technology they need to enhance their position. A few moves have been announced today that underline the importance of the channel’s M&A strategy.

Mid-market specialist Parabellum Investments has continued to expand its portfolio through acquisition, with the focus of its latest deal designed to build on the recent purchase of pharma serialization player Advanco and expand its footprint in the US.

But its latest target, which has been picked up with the support of operational investors the Acacia Group and the Column Group, is a consulting and systems and services provider that has operations in the UK as well as the US and Canada.

“We believe that, in the wake of the Covid crisis, large organisations will increasingly look to source enterprise-wide technologies and systems locally that meet their long-term business objectives,” said Rami Cassis, CEO of Parabellum Investments. “We plan to build on this with Column, which has a successful track record and outstanding reputation for excellence in delivery.”

Cassis has stepped in as interim co-CEO of Column Technologies alongside Acacia’s Gavin Long, until the business appoints a permanent chief executive.

“The company is particularly well placed to help clients exploit the full power of the cloud, and strengthen their capabilities in technology-enabled customer service, both areas of business that continue to accelerate at a rapid pace,” he said.

“We are already working to improve operational efficiencies across the company and have ambitious plans to help this business grow both organically and with acquisitions across the Americas and Europe.”

Also announced today was a deal by security player Venafi to pick up Jetstack, a developer cert-manager that allows developers to create and consume certificates with Kubernetes.

The firms have been working together over the last couple of years to support machine identity protection in Kubernetes and multicloud environments.

“In the race to virtualise everything, businesses need faster application innovation and better security – both are mandatory,” said Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi. “Most people see these requirements as opposing forces, but we don’t. We see a massive opportunity for innovation.”

Matt Barker, CEO and co-founder of Jetstack, said it was essential to deal with market demands quickly. “This reality led us to rethink how software is built and Kubernetes has given us the ideal platform to work from,” he said. “However, putting speed before security is risky. By joining Venafi, Jetstack will give our customers a chance to build quickly while acting securely.”

The deal got the thumbs-up from Tim Callahan, senior vice-president and global chief security officer at Aflac, and a Venafi customer advisory board member.

“The move to cloud-native platforms has shifted the way applications are developed and deployed,” he said. “This shift is a major disruption in the way we secure digitally transformed organisations. Every organisation needs the right tools and training to make it easy for developers to use machine identities correctly while, at the same time, providing the infosec team with the information they need to keep the organisation secure.”

VMware is also adding some muscle to the security it can offer in Kubernetes environments after swooping to pick up Octarine.

The firm has been busy making announcements at its Connect 2020 cyber security partner and user conference and revealed that as well as making an acquisition, it has established a Next-Gen Security Operations Centre Alliance that includes Splunk, IBM Security, Google Cloud’s Chronicle, Exabeam and Sumo Logic.

Just as with the Venafi move, VMware’s decision to add Octarine technology into the mix arose from the pressing need to add security to containers and Kubernetes, and once the deal is closed, the acquired technology will be embedded into VMware’s Carbon Black Cloud.

“Acquiring Octarine will enable us to further expand VMware’s intrinsic security strategy to containers and Kubernetes environments by embedding the Octarine technology into the VMware Carbon Black Cloud,” said Patrick Morley, general manager and senior vice-president, security business unit, VMware.

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