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HP Tests the M&A Waters With Acquisition of Cloud Startup Eucalyptus

The deal will make Marten Mickos head of HP's cloud business.

Hewlett-Packard took another step back into the mergers and acquisitions market, since its disastrous $11 billion acquisition of the software firm Autonomy, announcing today that it will buy cloud software startup Eucalyptus Systems.

Sources familiar with the deal tell Re/code that the price is less than $100 million. But it’s not about the money. It’s more of an “acqhire”; Eucalyptus employs fewer than 100 people. The deal calls for Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus, to take over as Senior VP and head of HP’s cloud business unit. He’ll report directly to CEO Meg Whitman. HP’s Martin Fink had been running that business since late last year. Its prior head, Biri Singh, left HP last year.

Technically, it’s not HP’s first acquisition since Autonomy. In March, HP bought tiny Shunra Software, a Pennsylvania-based networking software startup that had raised only $11.5 million in one round of funding. Terms weren’t disclosed then, either.

Eucalyptus Systems is a bit bigger, having raised a combined $55 million in three rounds of venture capital funding. The latest was a Series C led by New Enterprise Associates. Other investors include Institutional Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital and e.ventures.

So what does it do? It develops open source software to help companies manage their cloud computing environments, but also to make their internal private clouds compatible with the offerings of cloud giant Amazon Web Services.

“We are absolutely the experts on compatibility between clouds — private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds,” Mickos said in an interview on Wednesday. “We have developed open source software that is used to move computing workloads between each kind of cloud.”

Mickos is from Finland, and previously ran MySQL, an open source database software company that was acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2008 and is now part of Oracle.

The deal is also part of HP’s plan to boost its cloud service portfolio. In May, Whitman vowed to spend $1 billion to build out HP’s Helion brand of cloud computing services. That business is lagging well behind Amazon and IBM in terms of revenue.

At least one of my predictions about HP has come true this year. The company has finally bought a cloud software company. It was just in a different part of the cloud than I expected. So I can almost say “I told ya.” Almost.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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