Dell's planned acquisition of two small developers of software for migrating applications from legacy systems to up-to-date IT infrastructures gives the company a new services offering that could bring it in contact with more enterprise customers.
Dell on Thursday said it signed an agreement to acquire Make Technologies, a developer of application modernization software and services for helping customers re-engineer existing applications for more modern IT environments.
This move followed the company's Wednesday unveiling of its acquisition of Clerity Solutions, a provider of solutions and services that help customers move from legacy computing systems into new industry-standard systems and even the cloud.
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Dell believes that CIOs are struggling with legacy technologies, both in terms of applications and data, said Hans Wolf, managing director for Dell's Application Services Business Unit.
"We see a significant market potential," Wolf said. "When we started thinking about the capabilities we need to succeed in this space, we saw the need to make acquisitions."
Dell's first foray into the application and systems modernization business was its 2009 acquisition of Perot Systems, Wolf said.
"The Dell leadership believes this is a real opportunity for Dell to be a leading solution provider in the technology and services needed to help customers migrate their legacy environments," he said.
The two acquisitions offer complementary technologies that Wolf said will help Dell work with customers looking to migrate older applications and data.
Clerity is focused helping businesses re-host applications and data assets to open systems. Make, however, focuses on the re-engineering and re-architecting of existing applications and data, he said.
The correct approach for the customers depends on their primary reason for migrating their older systems, Wolf said.
"If it's short-term costs, we can offer re-hosting," he said. "For example, COBOL on an HP-3000 server, or an application running on an IBM or Amdahl mainframe, can be re-hosted on Dell servers. It can be done relatively quickly, eliminating expensive licensing and maintenance costs."
Make, on the other hand, is applicable where customers have a business-driven initiative to migrate applications but are constrained because of the cost to change, Wolf said.
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"For example, if an insurance company comes out with a new application, but it is too hard to make the needed changes in the existing infrastructure," he said. "Make's solution is not a manual rewrite of the application. Instead, it has a very sophisticated solution that allows us to extract the information out of legacy applications. It is a much more elegant approach."
Make helps re-architect existing applications and data for migration to Java or .Net platforms, said Bill Bergen, president of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Make.
"It's not an easy process," Bergen said. "But it's significantly easier and less risky than a re-write. We capture the existing operations and data from the beginning so we don't have to completely re-do them over from scratch."
Make analysis technology will also allow Dell Services to analyze a customer's entire enterprise portfolio as part of an overall enterprise strategy plan, Wolf said.
"Some applications may be moved to new packaging, some re-written, some re-hosted on Clerity," he said.
Make and Clerity let Dell provide a complete migration capability, Bergen said. "Customers with Dell get one place to shop and hold hands throughout the migration process," he said.
The Clerity acquisition has already closed. The Make acquisition is expected to close sometime during Dell's second fiscal quarter.