It’s no secret that Dell placed a big bet on software companies in the last few years. The hard part will be pulling all the assets together under a shared integrated framework. The company is working through the first phases of that effort now, according to Dell Software president John Swainson.
Dell is developing a common user interface for its software products along with a common set of APIs to connect the user interface to its applications, says Swainson. The next step after that will be to develop an API management platform that will make it simpler for Dell partners to integrate Dell software with third-party applications.
It will take Dell a few years to pull all that integration work together. In the meantime, the company is working to make sure all of its software can be deployed in the cloud, Swainson says. For example, Dell is making major investments in its Foglight systems management software, which will available as both software-as-a-service (SaaS) and an on-premise application in 2014, he says.
That effort will complement the cloud management suite of software that Dell gained when it recently acquired Enstratius. According to Swainson, if applications are running in the cloud, it only makes sense to provide an option that allows management applications to run in the cloud as well.
The Dell software portfolio currently consists of assets gained by the acquisition of Quest Software, SonicWALL, Boomi, Credant Technologies, KACE, Gale Technologies and Make Technologies. Add to that the nearly 30 companies that Quest acquired over the years before it was acquired by Dell, and the integration task facing Dell becomes quite substantial.
Additional acquisitions are probable in 2014, given Dell’s commitment to automating software and services in a way that will drive down the total cost of IT. But the amount of debt that Dell is carrying as a private company means the acquisitions will probably be on a smaller scale. In fact, Dell has created a $300 million Dell Venture Fund to help identify potential acquisition targets. In addition, it has set up a committee of CTOs from various parts of the company that is charged with overseeing the company’s integration strategy.
Of course, Dell already relies on Boomi to integrate most of its internal processes, so it would only be natural for Boomi to play a significant role in the company’s overall integration strategy. The challenge now for Dell is to figure out a way to expose additional APIs that would allow partners to reach even deeper into the Dell software portfolio.