Gartner pours cold water on HP/Baltimore deal

14 Jul 2003

Leading tech industry analyst Gartner has described Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of Baltimore’s SelectAccess division as having “little strategic value” that won’t give the company the edge it needs in the security market.

In early July HP acquired Select Access for £8.3m sterling as part of Baltimore’s disposal of certain offerings in the managed-service arena. Baltimore has since revealed that it is no longer up for sale, basing its decision on its belief that a sale would not maximise value for shareholders.

However, Gartner believes that HP’s all-cash acquisition of SelectAccess, which provides single-sign on authentication tools for extranets, intranets and web portals, offers little strategic value.

In a statement discussing the merits of the HP acquisition of SelectAccess, Gartner said: “HP has never had a coherent strategy for enterprise security, and its position has become even more fragmented since its acquisition of Compaq Computer. With this deal, HP appears to be reacting to moves by Sun Microsystems and IBM in the enterprise access management market — a reaction that comes several years too late to have any real impact. SelectAccess does have one of the leading enterprise-access-management user interfaces, but it has no other differentiators that would enable it to succeed against the established leaders in this market.”

Gartner also said that enterprises that use SelectAccess products and services should not consider this acquisition as a long-term positive development.

“Those that are happy with SelectAccess can assume that HP’s financial strength will ensure that it continues to be supported at least through 2004. The deal appears to be the first step in a plan to sell the financially troubled Baltimore. The sale of SelectAccess may provide Baltimore with enough cash to continue operations for another year, or until buyers can be found for the company’s other assets.

“However, enterprises using Baltimore’s other products and services should begin evaluating alternatives,” Gartner warned.

By John Kennedy