I don’t think anyone was surprised that 3Par was going to be purchased by someone. In this industry anyway, we all knew what the exit criteria was for 3Par.

After all they have a good product, and when you compare it to the big guys, a great product. The big guys like HP, and Dell and others that perhaps aren’t so obvious (Cisco? Oracle?) clearly would benefit from a new storage platform, and I think their ability to sell the 3Par gear will be quite a bit higher than 3Par against EMC, HDS, and the rest.

What took everyone by surprise I think is the size of the deal and how quickly it grew. Many say the bidding isn’t over yet, and some are predicting numbers in excess of $2B. Personally, I am very happy for the team at 3Par, it is a nice way to end over a decade of hard work in a very competitive market. EMC clearly didn’t think Dell could sell high end stuff. I bet they are proved wrong.

HP could clearly benefit from a new storage platform and might really go to town with it relative to EMC. HP is already a storage giant as we all know, but their flagship lines are either old, or OEM’ed, a position they might rather not be in wouldn’t you say?

Who will win this deal? I think most people assume that HP will muscle Dell out – they have the deepest pockets after all. Donatelli is a strong player at HP, and it is obvious that Hurd’s departure hasn’t created a vacuum too big to stifle important deals like this. We’ll see how high the bidding goes.

One point worth mentioning is that the highest bidder doesn’t necessarily win. The preference or fit the BOD of directors sees amongst the bidders does come into play. For several dollars a share, it would be a tough argument to support the lowest bidder. But 10 cents a share premium will not necessarily prevail. I expect to see a substantial bid from Dell tomorrow. If I’m wrong, I doubt that Dell will prevail because of two reasons: 1) HP made a great argument on the cultural and technology fit, and 2) There are multiple people in the decision loop who have ties and history to HP, and in a tight race I think the “tie” just may go to them.

At the end of the day, all customers will ultimately benefit from this. This is clear validation that next generation storage platforms are the wave of the future and the big guys are finally acknowledging it.

The world will end up with one less storage company, and it should be fun.