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Dell wants to sell you systems, but the Holy Grail may be managing them

Dell is more than happy to sell you well-designed notebooks with neat colors and work its corporate connections to boost sales. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that Dell's future is lightweight software and managing the gear it sells you as a service.
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Written by Larry Dignan on

Dell is more than happy to sell you well-designed notebooks with neat colors and work its corporate connections to boost sales. But it's becoming increasingly obvious that Dell's future is lightweight software and managing the gear it sells you as a service.

The acquisition of MessageOne on Tuesday is really just the icing on the IT support cake. Consider the following milestones:

  • Feb. 12: Dell announces purchase of MessageOne for $155 million.
  • Jan. 28: Dell closes EqualLogic purchase, a $1.4 billion deal that gives the company more heft in high performance storage. EqualLogic's systems are designed for virtualization.
  • Dec. 20, 2007: Dell closes the purchase of Everdream, a SaaS provider of remote service management. Terms weren't disclosed., but the deal is notable.
  • Nov. 12, 2007: Dell completes acquisition of ASAP Software for about $340 million. ASAP's software is used to manage software licensing, purchasing, renewals and compliance.
  • Oct. 10, 2007: Dell announced its first service--Dell On-Demand Desktop Streaming--to ease desktop support for a cost of $1,100 per user.
  • July 18, 2007: Dell announces plans to buy SilverBack Technologies, a service delivery platform for remote monitoring and management of infrastructure. Terms not disclosed.

Dell's challenge will be putting these services together into an offering that enterprise customers embrace. The emphasis on SaaS is a nice start since the mid-sized to small companies Dell is targeting don't want the hassles of a desktop client.

Monitor Dell's deals to see what's next, but the company seems determined to build out its software offerings.

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