Glenn O'Donnell

The IT management software and operations communities have been buzzing this week about reports that Microsoft acquired IT process automation vendor Opalis Software. We have unequivocally confirmed that this rumor is incorrect. Opalis has NOT been acquired by Microsoft. It remains an independent entity, at least for now.

Opalis, based outside of Toronto, has repeatedly reported impressive revenue growth over its short history. For the past few years, it has been a desirable morsel for larger vendors seeking to add strong process automation to their portfolios. Many have expressed interest, but its success allows Opalis to command a high premium that no suitor has yet been willing to pay.

Some argue that Opalis actually should not be acquired at all. It has built several tight partnerships, including one with Microsoft and this rich ecosystem positions Opalis as a viable standalone vendor. Of course, this requires Opalis to continue innovating aggressively to retain its desirability and prevent commoditization. So far it has been successful at keeping its innovation edge. If it slips, so will its valuation and that will certainly accelerate an acquisition.

Process automation technology is too important for the major IT vendors to ignore and our client inquiries corroborate that the Opalis technology is well regarded in this category. Process automation is a cornerstone of advanced IT automation that conceivably enables cloud computing and automated self-service service request fulfillment. Even at a high valuation, the return on this technology will also be high.

Regardless of its stamina on the innovation treadmill, we do believe someone will eventually consume Opalis. It is premature to say who will prove to be that successful shopper. That includes Microsoft.

By Glenn O'Donnell

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