Cloud computing: raining money

September 20, 2010: 3:00 AM ET

Tech titans are battling to pay big bucks for once bland computing firms. Two questions: Are they worth it? And who's next?

When tech titans HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) became entangled in a furious back-and-forth bidding war over 3PAR (PAR), they unwittingly introduced much of the public to a decidedly-unsexy area of tech that is becoming indispensable in our increasingly smartphone'd, tabletized, app-driven world : cloud computing.

In fact, HP's $2.4 billion acquisition of the data storage company was just one in a recent spate of acquisitions. Four smaller cloud-related companies have also recently been scooped up by the big boys.

Last month, virtualization software-maker VMware (VMWannounced it would buy Integrien, a provider of network analysis, and TriCipher, a security software developer, for undisclosed amounts. Around the same time, Citrix Systems (CTXS) also bought VMLogix for its cloud management technology and Red Bend Software Inc. snagged VirtualLogix, which allows Intel and ARM-based mobile devices to run multiple operating systems on a virtual machine. (Again, terms were not disclosed.) More

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