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Symantec sells application performance management business

A best-of-breed performance tool line looks for a new home outside of the Symantec stable. As a result, the Precise Software nameplate is back in business.

Symantec Corp. has signed a definitive agreement to sell its application performance management business to private equity firm Vector Capital. The new firm will be known as Precise Software Solutions.

Application performance management never fit into Symantec's portfolio. Spinning it off makes sense.
Tony Baer

The centerpiece of Symantec's application performance management business has long been the Precise Java and related management products acquired as part of Symantec's $13.5 billion acquisition of Veritas Software in 2005. Over the past two years, Symantec has enhanced and repackaged Precise and other performance tools, which now support several platforms, under the heading of the "I3" product line.

The return of "Precise" to the marquee indicates there may be a limit to the trend toward one-stop management shops formed by mergers and consolidation. Performance specialists Wily and Mercury have become parts of larger companies (CA and HP, respectively) in recent years. But it may not be easy to field these best-of-breed tools within larger suites. Symantec admits it was unable to effectively market the performance tools while still pursuing security and storage sales to data centers.

"When Symantec acquired the Precise division with Vertias, we expected that it would move quickly to get the product to market. Instead it disappeared for three years," said Richard Ptak, principal at Ptak, Noel & Associates. "I3 impressed us, but they failed to have a strong 'go-to-market' plan."

Analyst Tony Baer, principal with researcher onStrategies, said application performance management never fit into Symantec's portfolio. "Spinning it off makes sense," he said.

Reached for comment, Symantec representatives seemed to broadly agree with the analysts' commentary.

"We decided [to sell the application performance management business] over the last several months. We examined our portfolio to see where things were efficient and where things didn't fit very well," said Henri Isenberg, vice president of Symantec's Server and Application Management Group. "In terms of go-to-market investment, we weren't really able to give what it needed."

Isenberg said Symantec will continue to honor its support commitments to customers. He said Vector Capital would be capable of investment that would help Precise thrive. Among previous software-related undertakings of new-parent Vector Capital are LANDesk Software, SafeNet, Corel Corp. and WinZip.

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