Dell: More Security Moves Will Follow SonicWall Acquisition


John Swainson has been president of Dell's new Software group for less than two weeks, but he's already made a big splash with the company's move to acquire SonicWall on Tuesday.

Of course the SonicWall deal was well in place by the time Swainson joined Dell, which he acknowledged, but he added that Dell will continue to be aggressive on the software acquisition front, especially around security.

"We are making good progress in Dell Software [intellectual property]. Security is a big issue for customers. Dell is building a software portfolio to address those needs with key assets in highly profitable and fast growth segments," Swainson said on a media conference call Tuesday.

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As hardware competitors Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle also gobble up applications vendors, Dell is trying to keep pace. Swainson, a former CEO at CA Technologies and most recently a senior adviser to Silver Lake, a global private equity firm, was hired to build the brand-new Dell Software business and formalize a solutions-based approach.

On the call Tuesday, Swainson wouldn't detail his vision for Dell Software, but said, "It's clearly my job to make software a meaningful part of Dell's overall portfolio. This is not the last thing you're going to see from us."

Dell has made several acquisitions in the last few years but security, particularly unified threat management and with it Web security, antivirus and firewall, intrusion detection and protection, content filtering and applications control were a big hole that customers were asking Dell to fill, Swainson said.

"Security is inhibiting the comfort level of moving things to the cloud. This is not the last thing we'll do in the security space," Swainson said. "UTM addresses this with a comprehensive solution. It brings reduced tech training for IT staff, streamlines installation, upgrades all the security functions at once, and helps customers with regulatory compliance and concerns about cyber security."

Meanwhile, Matt Medeiros, president and CEO of SonicWALL, said on the call that folding into Dell will allow it to accelerate growth more rapidly than the company could have done on its own.

"It also expands us up market with our SuperMassive [firewall products] and other network security products. We believe that taking this step is a natural progressive step with Dell," Medeiros said.

Dave Johnson, senior vice president of Dell corporate strategy, said that SonicWall complements other acquisitions that Dell has made over the last couple of years, including Scalent, AppAssure and Kace.

"In our conversations with CIOs and IT executives, security surfaces as one of the [top] concerns for managing their IT environment, especially as they want to leverage private and public clouds," said Johnson.