There were rumors a month or so ago that EMC was making an acquisition bid for F5 Networks. So far, those rumors have come to nothing.
Now, however, and specifically within the last couple days, rumors are intensifying that IBM is making a move to acquire F5. According to the assumptions and reasoning behind the rumors, F5 is facing unprecedented competition in LAN and WAN application optimization from the likes of Cisco, Juniper, Citrix (which now is in league with Microsoft), and scores of smaller players, including the recently public Riverbed Technology Inc.
An additional factor, according to the scuttlebutt, is the continuing uncertainty regarding investigations into alleged improper accounting of stock-option backdating at F5. The company’s CEO John McAdam was involved with the sale of a previous company, Sequent Computer Systems, to IBM in 1999 during a scandal over alleged accounting irregularities.
Then again, F5 has benefited from a couple analyst upgrades recently, so the acquisition speculation could be nothing more than fevered conjecture.
F5 has rebuffed competitive incursions from major players, including Cisco, in the past, so there’s no reason to doubt that it couldn’t do so again, regardless of whether it remains independent or becomes subsumed within an industry giant such as IBM, whose own relationship with Cisco appears to increasingly complicated.