Thanks in part to the ongoing shift to cloud computing, as well as the more general surge of data use, transfer and storage, the market to provide power, enclosures, racking, energy management and greater efficiency in data centers is one of the bright spots of the sluggish economy. Just the past month have brought announcements of new acquisitions by General Electric and Legrand North America that will expand those manufacturers' roles in the data center market.

Legrand, from its U.S. base in West Hartford, Conn., announced on Jan. 7 that it will acquire Electrorack Products Co., Anaheim, Calif., a maker of custom cabinets and enclosures for IT markets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition will enhance Legrand's manufacturing, engineering and product offerings for the commercial data communications market, the company said. U.S. demand for cabinets and accessories in data centers as well as the broadcast and broadband, industrial and military/aerospace/shipboard markets also served by Electrorack are expected to expand by 10 percent a year over the next few years, Legrand said.

Meanwhile, GE announced on Jan. 13 that it will acquire Lineage Power, Plano, Texas, a privately held maker of power conversion products from The Gores Group LLC, for an estimated $520 million. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, GE said. Lineage Power is a global provider of high-efficiency power conversion infrastructure technology and services for the telecommunications and data center industries. It has manufacturing plants in China, Mexico and India. The deal will open the door for GE Energy technology to be deployed in the $20 billion per year power conversion market that is critical for data centers.

GE said the Lineage Power acquisition will also give it a boost in the smartphone market, which it says is expected to see continued massive growth over the next several years.

“According to recent studies, there will be 1.1 billion smartphones sold globally by 2013,” said Dan Heintzelman, president and CEO of GE Energy Services. “Every new mobile device plugs into an infrastructure that requires an ever increasing amount of high-quality power. The growth in high-bandwidth mobile internet applications and cloud computing is accelerating that demand.”