OK, I've read all the coverage of Dell's acquisition yesterday of cloud integration vendor Boomi. I'm really pleased for Bob, Rick and the team. They're great guys, it's a terrific company, and they've earned this [disclosure: earlier this year I wrote a Boomi product profile paid for by the vendor]. But Dell? I have two responses:
- I don't get it.
- It worries me.
I don't get it for the same reason it didn't quite work back at Dreamforce 2008 to have Michael Dell come out on stage to pitch his company's server products right after the usual extended Marc Benioff keynote telling the assembled masses why their companies don't need to buy servers any more. It just doesn't make sense. Is Dell going to bundle Boomi with its servers so the next on-premise app you install will integrate seamlessly to the cloud? That would be almost as absurd as imagining the consultants at Dell subsidiary Perot Systems are suddenly going to start recommending Boomi's low-cost cloud integration in preference to the lucrative middleware projects they currently spec out.
My fear is that Boomi is just going to disappear into Dell, never to be seen again, in much the same way that Dell's run of SaaS acquisitions in late 2007 and early 2008 pretty much disappeared off the radar screen. Maybe the full story of Dell's cloud ambitions is yet to be told, but for now it doesn't seem to add up.
And what worries me is that we're starting to see the beginnings of what you might call panic buying of cloud integration pureplays by vendors that want to make their mark in the cloud. First there was IBM buying Cast Iron a few months back, which at least had some visible logic to it. Now Boomi's gone and there aren't that many left in play.
When the shelves have been cleared of cloud integration vendors, where are customers going to shop for platform-neutral integration? Perhaps it's idealistic of me, but I have this notion that middleware works best if it has a Switzerland kind of role rather than being tied to specific platforms. Mary Jo Foley writes today that Microsoft is preparing its own integration play for Azure. Is platform or provider lock-in the future of cloud services integration? I can't see that's going to be good for customers or the industry.