Then There Was N-1

Less than two months after completing a protracted acquisition of FullTime Software, Legato announced an agreement to acquire FullTime competitor Vinca Corp. for $94 million in cash and stock.

Legato Systems Inc. (www.legato.com)is continuing to drive consolidation in the Windows NT system clustering market. Less than two months after completing a protracted acquisition of FullTime Software, Legato announced an agreement to acquire FullTime competitor Vinca Corp. (www.vinca.com) for $94 million in cash and stock.

FullTime and Vinca competed with their server-to-server data replication and service failover products in the Windows NT space, but each company has unique markets that differentiate them. FullTime Software, which was the conglomeration of the former Qualix Group and Octopus Technologies, focuses on clustering, replication and failover capabilities that supports Windows NT and several flavors of Unix. Vinca’s product line includes Standby Server for NetWare and CoStandby Server for Windows NT 4.0. The company still sells a product for OS/2 Warp Server.

Unlike FullTime Software, which was largely absorbed by Legato after the acquisition, Vinca is expected to remain intact. Vinca may be positioned as a stand-alone organization under the Legato umbrella, and may end up providing a sales channel for some of FullTime’s products. "From an organizational point of view, we’re not going to mess up something that’s running very well," says Ed Cooper, Legato’s director of investor relations.

Alan Rudd, Vinca Software’s president and CEO, says the companies have a small-enough overlap -- about 25 to 30 percent by his estimate -- that the benefits outweigh any redundancy. "There is a void in our product line, and that is moving large amounts of data long distances," Rudd explains. "Octopus provides that movement of data over long distances [using] a small pipe. You would sell that product very much like we sell our products. It would seem to me that it would fit very well," Rudd adds.

Vinca and Legato/Qualix products also differ in their clustering missions. Vinca’s products are generally used in a one-to-one configuration -- where a single machine backs up the other with failover and real-time block-level data mirroring capabilities. One-to-many or many-to-one clustering options are not available. The Legato/Qualix products include many-to-one and one-to-many file replication capabilities that propagate changes over a network connection.

With both Vinca and FullTime becoming part of Legato, the number of independent data replication and clustering technology vendors is quickly diminishing. Last fall, Microsoft acquired Valence Research Inc., whose IP load-balancing product, Convoy Cluster, has reemerged as the Windows Load Balancing Service (WLBS). The WLBS product can be used with, or independent of, Microsoft’s Cluster Server product. One of the only remaining independent vendors in the market is NSI Software (www.nsisw.com) with its Double-Take product.

Legato, which has been on an acquisition spree, also closed a deal with Intelliguard Software Inc. earlier this year. The Intelligard acquisition brought serverless SAN backup capabilities into Legato’s backup and storage management product family.