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Dell pins software hopes on the midmarket

James Niccolai | July 20, 2012
Dell has laid out a plan to dramatically grow its software business

Nor does Dell have all the pieces in place for its target markets. "There are holes, frankly, in each one, and we'll have to build or buy to fill those holes," Swainson said.

Nevertheless, analysts at the event were bullish at its prospects. Dell may be late to the game in building a software business, but it's buying the right pieces and doesn't have a "mish mash" of legacy products to worry about, as some of its rivals do.

"There seems to be a good strategy behind it," said Peter ffoulkes, a research director with 451 Research Group.

Dell has a window of opportunity while HP, whose strategy has been in disarray, gets itself back on track, ffoulkes said. In particular, HP "messed up" its mobile strategy, and Dell now has a chance to do that right.

Dell's own first attempt selling smartphones and tablets wasn't very successful, but it hopes to come back strongly with tablets based on the upcoming Windows 8 OS. It will differentiate itself by selling management software hand in hand with those devices, Swainson said.

Quest brings capabilities that Dell can leverage across its other software products, he said. Its NetVault data protection software, for instance, will complement Dell's storage offerings, and its identity management software will add value to Dell's security products, he said.

"To the extent you can feed ID information into the edge of the network, it makes threat management far easier," he said.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, agreed that Quest could be the "glue" that binds Dell's products together. While its acquisition choices have been good, he said, it was sometimes hard to see how the pieces fit together.

The goals it has set itself are achievable, King said, but everything depends on execution.

"It's not an inconsiderable task they have ahead of them," he said.

 

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