I rambled long enough in my answer to the comment that Vincent McBurney left on my post Is Business Objects Up for Sale? that I figured I should just add it here as a regular post. Thank you Vincent for the feedback.
I rate SAP low as they just signed a multi year deal with Informatica and IBM low as they have too much overlap with the data integration tools. There are much better BI options for these two. I give Microsoft almost no chance as they are building out cheaper BI tools.
I would rate Oracle a good chance as it would give them a new set of BI customers and a heterogeneous data integration stack that complements the ELT solutions.
I rate HP the best chance of all as it would give them an end to end Data Warehouse suite to counter offerings from Oracle and IBM.
My thoughts on this:
SAP: I was surprised to hear that the rumor was that SAP was the leading candidate to acquire BOBJ. It is out of character for them to do an acquisition this big. It also would get them out of their application "comfort" zone. It also would not really advance their push into the SMB (small to medium size business) market. BUT they are fierce competitors with Oracle and intense (macho?!) competition, like jealousy, may make them do things they otherwise would not.
IBM: There is an overlap with DataStage and Data Integrator technically, but maybe not from a marketing perspective. Data Integrator sales are small in a relative sense to BOBJ overall sales and to DataStage. BOBJ bought Acta and integrated it into their product line (a very good product to begin with and even better now) but they might have been too late to the dance for many potential customers. By the time Data Integrator was ready for its customers many of them had already standardized on Informatica or Ascential/IBM. You can transition the best aspects of Data Integrator, such as the metadata management, into DataStage and MetaStage products. ETL sales would not be a roadblock to this potential merger.
Two questions they need to ask themselves. First, do you want a best-in-class BI software package and associated Services revenue versus being independent and its associated Services revenue? They crossed the line with best-in-class ETL, so best-in-class BI is a logical next step. Second, if you are going to buy a BI software vendor, should you buy Business Objects, Cognos (COGN), MicroStrategy (MSTR) or someone else? Any other suggestions?
Oracle: They already have Oracle Warehouse Builder (OWB) and Oracle Data Integrator (ODI), formerly Sunopsis, so one more overlapping tool is fine?! They would produce a roadmap and, just like with IBM the ETL tool overlap should not deter a sale.
Finally, it is not just about technology. It also about revenue and profit from sales, maintenance, professional services; the size of the customer base; the quantity and quality of the sales and engineering organizations; and, the negotiations and the price.
More business intelligence or performance management companies are likely to be acquired. Stay tuned.