IBM and EMC are among several firms in race to acquire privately held database web hosting firm SoftLayer Technologies in a deal expected to be worth $2bn.
As part of the process SoftLayer has also appointed Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse to carry out the sale process.
Established in 2005, the IT infrastructure specialist provides its 25,000 customers with cloud infrastructure, which mainly include small and medium-sized businesses, according to Reuters.
The sale process was sparked by one of its customers, AT&T, which initially approached the firm recently seeking exclusive talks, though it pulled out later.
GI Partners is the majority owner of SoftLayer, which had purchased all of its equity in collaboration with SoftLayer management in August 2010.
SoftLayer's biggest rival The Planet was merged with it in 2010 by GI Partrners.
Meanwhile, EMC is moving ahead with its cloud-based software business, as it joined hands with VMware to form a venture known as Pivotal.