The 3PAR (NYSE: PAR) acquisition saga is far from over. Right after Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) increased its bid for the advanced storage specialist to $24.30 per share, a hair above Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ) previous $24.00-per-share offer, HP came right back swinging. It raised its offer to $27 right after the markets closed for the day.

I fully expected a couple more twists and turns in this drama before the Sept. 20 deadline Dell had set, but HP wasted no time in re-raising its offer. The whole buyout saga is starting to look just like the three-way opera between Data Domain, EMC (NYSE: EMC), and NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP) that played out last summer. In that drawn-out scuffle, the larger EMC walked away with the price and left NetApp to fend for itself without an easy acquisition. As it turns out, NetApp is doing very well without winning that bid, including in the very market segment where Data Domain made a living. For Dell, it's not quite that simple -- the underdog needs to win this time.

Dell is no slouch when it comes to selling storage systems, but 3PAR is the key to make a grand entrance in the burgeoning storage market for cloud-computing environments. Without this essential element, Dell would have to spend a long time and lots of money on developing its own super-efficient capacity management systems, and might miss the fleeting window of opportunity to make a serious mark. That's bad news for the attendant server systems, too, and ultimately is a supremely bitter pill to swallow.

By contrast, HP offers a storage portfolio that overlaps with 3Par's offerings today, alongside other 3Par rivals such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Hitachi (NYSE: HIT). HP really doesn't need 3PAR the way Dell does, and I suspect this game is on mostly because the technology giant wants to drive up the acquisition price. And 3PAR's board of directors has been quick to agree to Dell's terms while it never formally accepted HP's advances.

So I expect Dell to come back to the table and maybe another HP counter, each time just barely outdone by yet another Dell offer, until the curtains close on Dell and its new storage-efficiency unit. Enjoy the increasing buyout premiums, 3PAR shareholders.

Editors' Note: We adjusted HP's offer per share from $26 to $27.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.