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Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) have become a common strategic business practice, given recent economic trends and pressure to gain share in increasingly competitive markets. The Boston Consulting Group recently published research findings indicating that downturn deals -- those executed during periods of slow economic growth -- were twice as likely to produce long-term returns in excess of 50 percent and, on average, create 14.5 percent more value for shareholders of the acquirer (http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=859125).

Although it may seem a counterintuitive market development, challenging economic conditions have helped create a sort of M&A culture. Successful M&As can add new technology capabilities the acquiring company deems beneficial and can help advance a brand's value. For example, in 2007, Google paid $3.1 billion for DoubleClick in order to accelerate and better target the placements of electronic ads on Web sites.

In this M&A culture, potential targets are identified and analyzed, and once the decision has been made to combine the entities, particular pressure is placed on IT to deliver the large volume of required network changes on time and within budget. This is to be expected, given the importance that the IT network has for both the operational and tactical elements of the business.

An organization can reach overall goals quicker and establish a stronger market position sooner if the IT network of the acquired organization is smoothly and quickly integrated. IT managers face certain strategic challenges in merging disparate corporate networks; the focus is usually on the systems, applications, and data with little attention given to the critical impact on the network infrastructure itself. Some of the critical elements to be considered focus on the network devices and topology: Are all the devices on the network under management and secure? Have the data paths between devices been analyzed to determine assets are communicating properly? The pressures to rapidly integrate the IT networks often cause IT managers to make hasty decisions without all the facts, resulting in actions that can adversely impact the network's infrastructure, availability, security, and compliance over time.


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