EMC reportedly buys SourceLabs, but for what purpose?

EMC has apparently bought open-source support provider SourceLabs, but why?

TechFlash is reporting that EMC has purchased SourceLabs for an undisclosed fee. The unanswered question in TechFlash's report is why EMC would buy SourceLabs, a provider of support tools for Linux and other open-source software.

It's not that SourceLabs isn't a good company. I have followed SourceLabs since its inception, meeting with founder and CEO Byron Sebastian back at OSCON (in 2003) before the company was founded in 2004, and spent some time in the SourceLabs office in 2004 getting a demo of its technology. It was cool back in 2004, and has improved since then.

In addition, SourceLabs has managed to pull in some big-name customers like Fidelity and Merrill Lynch, demonstrating that it offers real value to real customers. Unlike some competitors like Spikesource, SourceLabs focused early on big enterprise needs and arguably did a better job of tailoring its products to meet those needs than its competitors, notwithstanding its share of financial struggles, which TechFlash details.

No, my question is what EMC, largely a provider of storage solutions, gets from a relatively broad-based open-source support technology company. TechFlash points to Swik.net, SourceLabs' open-source news and information repository as a source of value for the company, but I'm guessing that EMC didn't buy SourceLabs for Swik.net, given that the company had been contacting potential buyers just a few weeks ago to gauge interest in buying Swik.net, likely because EMC wasn't interested in that part of SourceLabs' business.

No, I don't think EMC is interested in an open-source community site, but it's clearly interested in the core SourceLabs technology. I'm struggling to understand the fit. Is EMC hoping to tap into expertise in various open-source technologies? If so, to what end?

I've asked SourceLabs' executive team for comment but, in the interim, anyone care to venture a guess as to what EMC is hoping to get from SourceLabs?

About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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