5 promising acquisitions for Microsoft Azure and Office 365

Microsoft's shopping spree could quickly lead to a more secure and more capable Azure and Office 365

5 promising acquisitions for Microsoft Azure and Office 365
REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (Reuters)

According to Wikipedia, Microsoft over the past 30 years has acquired 193 companies -- 22 of them since January 2015 alone. What I find interesting in the recent acquisitions is that many will be pulled into Microsoft's current Azure and Office 365 cloud offerings.

That is, Microsoft didn't buy these companies to sideline competitors and potential competitors, but to enhance its own products.

Granted, not all 22 acquisitions are particularly intriguing. For example, the recently acquired SwiftKey keyboard productivity application is a straightforward technology whose utility is clear if small in scope.

But several recent acquisitions merit your attention.

Equivio: The provider of machine learning technologies for e-discovery and information governance is a needed boost for Microsoft's email compliance options in Exchange Online. When integrated with Exchange Online, Equivio's technology should help users explore large, unstructured sets of data to quickly find what is relevant.

Revolution Analytics: This statistical software company focuses on R, a globally popular programming language for statistical computing and predictive analysis. The plan is to build R into SQL Server and Azure, among other uses.

Adallom: This cloud security provider offers an access-security broker for Salesforce, Box, Dropbox, and Office 365. Microsoft is investing heavily to strengthen its reputation and capabilities around security.

VoloMetrix: The organizational analytics provider's technology will work with Office 365's Office Graph and Delve Organizational Analytics, showing through dashboards the actionable metrics of what people are doing with their time and analyzing employee behavior with the goal of improving it.

Secure Islands: Another security-focused acquisition, this provider offers advanced policy-based data classification and information protection, to be used in Azure and Office 365 to help prevent data loss, as well as to enhance Azure Rights Management Services (RMS). Microsoft says it will use these technologies to more quickly secure business data no matter where it is stored.

Although it's too soon to tell how effective Microsoft will be in integrating these technologies, I appreciate Microsoft's willingness to buy and integrate rather than focus only on building technology in house.

However, I've been frustrated by the poor integration of some of Microsoft's previous acquisitions -- Skype and Yammer are two prominent examples. But I recognize those were entire application platforms, whereas the recent acquisitions are components that add features and thus may be easier to integrate into Microsoft's existing lineup.