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Q&A: New Dell Software group to offer data center management tools

Dell plans software products surrounding data center management, "big data," business intelligence, security and data protection by 2014.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Dell is in the midst of integrating the many new technologies it acquired over the past two years in hopes of delivering software products surrounding data center management, "big data," business intelligence, and more by 2014.

The unenviable task of parsing out Dell Inc.’s massive software portfolio, integrating the new with the old and delivering it all successfully falls under the stewardship of Quest Software Inc., which Dell acquired in July.

We sat down at Dell World here this week with Quest Software’s Greg Davoll, director of product marketing, and Steve Dickson, general manager of Windows server management, to find out how the transition has been going and what customers can expect Dell’s software vision to become.

How’s the transition been going? Oftentimes with transitions this massive it’s difficult to convey how all these pieces will ultimately fit together.

Steve Dickson: We’re still talking as Quest, Wyse [Technologies Inc.] and Kace, to be honest. We’ve only been with Dell for 70 days, so we’re still in the phase of figuring it out and finding our legs. But next year where we want to be is [continuing] to build out this new software company with acquisitions and take stuff on that makes sense. It’ll feel like a unique software company within Dell.

Greg Davoll: Quest is going to be the catalyst to bring all those acquisitions together. We’re taking six entities with hundreds and thousands of people to form the new Dell Software group. It’s been a good kind of crazy, if you know what I mean.  

In fiscal year 2014, you’ll start to see more about Dell Software. We’re officially launching in Q1 and we’ll talk about those customer problems we want to solve around data center management, big data and [business intelligence], and the security and data protection layer informing those other areas.

How bad is software redundancy at the moment? For example, Dell has a mobile device management appliance from Kace and then there’s Cloud Client Manager from Wyse.

Dickson: Across the board there is more synergy than overlap. We’re looking from small businesses to enterprise needs and we have more options to offer those different needs. We’re trying to figure out the right solutions for the right customers and have those to offer them. That’s a big part of the work that’s going on. What do we need to be a complete solution if we aren’t already? The fun thing is Dell is willing to invest and grow these solutions out.

How do we integrate hardware, software and services and have the ability to pull from strong technology and not sell IT siloed products?

What areas is Dell software lacking to offer a complete solution?

Davoll: [John] Swainson has mentioned that our BI analytics offering is an area of huge upside and growth. Everyone has data problems. Right now, we have Toad for data management and we just bought Katinga, a company that does big data Hadoop. We’ll invest there. We’ll invest in security, that’s a never-ending job.

As a new software company, where do you fall on SaaS offerings? Do you have a preference between delivering SaaS or on-prem software?

Davoll: The power of software spans across platform. In this case it’s virtualization, cloud and on-premise. As we grow, we can’t stop and ignore the on-prem needs in favor of SaaS apps. It’s really this fabric of three different types of environments and we want to support software across them.

Dickson: Companies don’t rip and replace, and we need to be in a position to offer a range of software.

Davoll: The migration line at Quest is a good example. We help companies move from Exchange to Office 365 or other hosted email services. We’re going to be that broker to the cloud, and then we’ll be building cloud-based solutions for when businesses get there.

Dickson: Honestly, that’s a big part of every product discussion we’re having as we evaluate our software portfolio. Not all businesses are suited for the cloud, they definitely won’t have their mission critical tools in the cloud and we need to be ready for that full spectrum of customers.

Finally, what’s the status of vWorkspace? It’s a fairly beloved product and lots of IT virtualization folks want to know if it’s going to survive.

Davoll: That’s good to hear. We believe it does play along with the VMware and Citrix offerings that excel in large, complex environments with tens of thousands of users. But, we’re going to position vWorkspace in the traditional, SMB space for someone stepping into desktop virtualization for the first time, especially if there are Microsoft and Hyper-V stack focused. It’ll support terminal services, local, or hosted environments.

It’s definitely not going away or dying on the vine if that was the worry.  

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