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Dell Plugs Data Centre Recovery Gap With AppAssure Deal

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Dell continues to transform itself from its box shifter origins with the acquisition of backup specialist AppAssure

Dell continues its transformation into a cloud infrastructure and services provider, after it acquired backup and replication software maker AppAssure Software.

Terms of the transaction were not released by Dell.

The deal marks the company’s twelfth acquisition in the past two years and the first under the leadership of new software division President John Swainson, a former CEO of CA Inc. who joined Dell late last year.

Business Model

Swainson, also a former executive at IBM, Visa and Cadence Software, is credited with refreshing and turning around CA’s fortunes after the company had fallen on hard times in the last decade. He heads up a reconfigured software division for Dell, a clear indicator of how serious the Austin, Texas-based corporation is about changing its business model.

Six-year-old AppAssure will plug an important hole in Dell’s data centre portfolio because it specialises in providing what it claims to be “near-instant and 100 percent reliable” bare-metal data centre application recovery in case of a power outage, human error, or other unexpected IT or environmental failure.

AppAssure protects a company’s entire application infrastructure. Dell had nothing this powerful on its shelves to reconnect data centre servers with other virtualised systems and cloud services.

“AppAssure will complement all of Dell’s existing storage products, and it fits perfectly into its – and VMware’s – virtualisation platforms,” Pund-IT analyst Charles King told eWEEK. “As it integrates into everything over time, AppAssure gives Dell clients another option within its storage offerings.

Looking Ahead

“Dell continues to evolve into a major player [in full-service IT] as a one-stop shop for data centre building and rebuilding. It’s safe to say that although this is [John] Swainson’s first acquisition for Dell, it won’t be his last.”

“Looking ahead, what will be interesting to watch from the trenches will be how the Dell field and partner channels talk about data protection by 2013,” Enterprise Strategy Group data centre systems analyst Jason Buffington wrote in his blog.

While Dell’s channels are definitely evolving around solution sales, those discussions start with understanding the customers’ problems and then lead to talking about which parts of the Dell portfolio can help solve them, Buffington said.

“Where the wholly owned (AppAssure) solution doesn’t completely meet the needs of their customer, the OEM’ed CommVault and Symantec solutions will likely solve broader enterprise problems … So Dell customers will still get what they need, but some will likely discover and acquire AppAssure when they wouldn’t have even known who they were before – that is the power of joining the Dell family,”  Buffington said.

Dell said it plans to retain AppAssure’s 230 employees.

Dell has been on an acquisition tear in recent months. Key data centre-related additions include Compellent (multi-protocol auto-tiered enterprise storage, 2011), RNA Networks (memory virtualisation, 2011), Force10 (data centre networking, 2011), Ocarina Networks (deduplication and compression, 2010) and Scalent (virtualisation management software, 2010).

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