Monday, February 6, 2012

Is Dell Software a Signal Dell Has a Cloud Master Plan?

Is Dell Software a Signal Dell Has a Cloud Master Plan?:

As you’ve probably heard by now, Dell announced the formation of a software group headed by former CA CEO John Swainson late last week. But PC Magazine is postulating the formation of this first-of-its-kind Dell division could lead to a string of cloud services and systems management acquisitions.

Let me boil down the article’s main points for you: PC Magazine talked to analysts who are under the impression that Dell won’t jeopardize its existing reseller relationships with companies such as — to date, deals such as those have made up Dell’s only cloud application play. But its cloud efforts could use some business intelligence (BI) offerings, according to analysts, and a new software business to support an acquisition might make more sense.

On a similar note, Dell is already ahead of the game when it comes to management and integration, thanks to Dell KACE and Dell Boomi, respectively. So what does that leave? Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and middleware. Dell already announced an infrastructure-as-a-service platform offering based on OpenStack, but taking it to the next level with a true PaaS layer might benefit the company in the long run. And in that long-term view, Dell might need to take that step if it’s going to stay competitive.

For systems management, the article suggests Dell might want to get in bed with the Zoho-owned ManageEngine, which would take aim at the SMB market. But the general consensus seems to be that Dell understands it’d be a fool’s errand to try to end HP’s and IBM’s dominance in that arena.

On a final note, I want to single out the fact that the article toys with the notion of Dell acquiring outright, which would give the company a huge swath of solutions that cover almost all the bases (including PaaS, by way of Heroku), while adding all kinds of new revenue opportunities to Dell’s fold. But we’re all in agreement that’s unlikely. Still, if the two companies make a surprise announcement in a few months, well, at least we’ll be able to say “I told you so.”

My reaction is generally one of nodding my head a lot. Dell’s no dummy, and it knows that the cloud is here to stay. When it was focusing on hardware and IaaS, staying in a reseller capacity was fine. But now that it has a software business, it’s time for Dell to make the jump and either buy or build a real, solid SaaS/PaaS portfolio.

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