Market Insight

IBM set to acquire Aspera

January 02, 2014  | Subscribers Only

Stelios Kotakis Stelios Kotakis Senior Research Analyst, Service Provider Technology

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IBM, the US based multinational technology corporation, has agreed to purchase file transfer software firm Aspera for an undisclosed fee. Aspera's software provides accelerated transfer speed for almost any file size, regardless the distance or network conditions, and has more than 18,000 active software licenses and over 2,000 customers worldwide. IBM offers several relevant services and products at the moment that vary within its Managed File Transfer suite.

Following the acquisition of SoftLayer in June 2013 for $2bn and the subsequent formation of IBM's Cloud Services Division, the Aspera acquisition reflects an IBM that is bent on strengthening its cloud offering portfolio with innovative new products and services. IBM purchased Softlayer, a privately held global cloud infrastructure operator headquartered in Texas, to increase its competitiveness against the likes Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, and other major cloud services providers. Acquiring Aspera is not only a way to enrich IBMs portfolio regarding technologies and services offered but as well a chance to set foot into media and entertainment industry, where IBM lack the features to be considered as a strong contender. Aspera already serves a considerable amount of companies within the industry including Apple, Netflix, Universal, Deluxe, BT and DirecTV. In addition to that, IBM is planning the closure of its SmartCloud, an ecosystem of cloud computing products and solutions, and is migrating its existing customers to SoftLayer.

As file sizes get bigger during time and demand for online video consumption increases at a fast pace, cloud competitors need to boost their portfolio with more functional and quicker ways of delivering such files. IBM's potential acquisition of Aspera will boost its cloud services with patented technologies like fasp (fast, adaptive, secure protocol), which is the source to all Aspera's developments regarding file transfer. But it's not only about functionality, effectiveness and speed when it comes to cloud. Security is a considerable feature for companies as well. Aspera indicates fasp as a secure protocol with a built-in security using cryptography for data encryption. Aspera enables as well the synchronization and sharing of files, regardless of size, across multiple devices and applications. Moreover, Aspera and Signiant were the two most used acceleration software providers which also offered optimised solutions for clients of AWS and Azure. IBM has the chance to combine those solutions and make a tailored package which could give them a competitive advantage against their contenders which may resort to Signiant or another third party solution.

IBM already offers infrastructure (IaaS), software (SaaS) and platform services (PaaS) through public, private or combined cloud solutions and this is an opportunity to further develop those products. In addition to that, it strengthens its customer list with notable companies that use Aspera's software especially within the media industry and potentially has an opportunity to market IT systems and other traditional IBM products and services. More deals similar to this one could emerge in the future as industry competitors like IBM further enhance cloud solutions.

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