PC maker Dell said Wednesday it had reached a deal to buy MSP platform vendor SilverBack Technologies, throwing itself into the managed service provider market as it seeks to expand its remote service and management lineup.
Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said it "plans to leverage SilverBack Technologies, Inc. into its operations as part of its ongoing strategy of IT simplification." The deal comes little more than a week after Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell told reporters that acquisitions would be an ongoing part of the company's turnaround strategy -- a turnaround he said at the time was still not finished.
SilverBack, based in Billerica, Mass., saw itself become a major player in the channel over the past two years by aggressively pricing its remote IT monitoring and management technology to VARs. It cut prices at a time when a growing number were entering the MSP segment.
Reached by phone, Silverback CEO Dan Phillips would not go into specifics when asked about the impact of the acquisition on the MSP platform vendor's channel partners.
"I can't answer that. I can say that it's a very positive impact on the company and on the channel," Phillips said. "We're doing very well. We're extremely pleased with the situation."
Several MSPs contacted by ChannelWeb were surprised by the move.
"My emotions are all over place, but my gut is it's a good move," said Bill Hood, president of Network Partners, a Dallas-based MSP, who heard the news from a reporter. Network Partners uses Silverback's platform to provide managed services to customers and is also a longtime Dell partner, Hood said.
"Dell has the chance to take this product big time. If we can ride on those coattails, that's good," Hood said. "My only concern is that they'll want to sell it to the masses. Silverback is not shrinkwrapped stuff you can sell on Dell.com."
Russ Bryant, vice president of manged services at Datotel, a St. Louis-based MSP, said he had concerns about the Dell deal. "Anytime there's change you have some concerns, but I don't think this will be anything but good," Bryant said. "It allows SilverBack to stay ahead of the pack. It means lots of R&D and an expansion of their base. I think Dell will help them will all their things."
Bryant added that his concerns don't have anything to do with Dell's direct legacy or the possible commoditization of managed services offerings. "I think that's a little close minded. Dell is big, but it doesn't mean they're bad," bryant said. "They'll take the product to the next step and help separate SilverBack from the people they're competing against. It might allow them to compete against the CAs of the world and some other people like that."
Still, Todd McKendrick, vice president of sales at Do IT Smarter, said he hopes that things will stay the same. Do IT Smarter uses the Silverback platform to offer smaller VARs a hosted managed services offering they can resell to their customers.
"We've had no indication things would change from the executive team at Silverback," McKendrick said. "Silverback has always been about true partnership, unlike other software partners where they just want to sell you a license. If they can maintain that mantra with Dell, then that's great. Dell may have a different agenda. We'll just have to wait and see how things will fold out." Though details of Dell's buyout of SilverBack were not immediately available, a Dell spokesman said the company is committed to continuing the change from a direct model to selling through solution providers in the channel, and said Dell was still committed to expanding its strategy of providing enhanced, remote support to customers.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
With reporting by Scott Campbell, Edward F. Moltzen, Damon Poeter and Shelley Solheim.