Yesterday, Dell bought Cloud Services integration provider Boomi and cloud punditry (including myself) started speculating on Dell’s strategy with this acquisition. My take on the acquisition is that Dell will put Boomi along with Perot Systems in its efforts to reposition the company as a consulting company a la IBM. Today Phil Wainewright wrote a post wondering if Boomi will disappear into Dell like some of the purchases Dell made in 2007-08. Well, it is a valid concern and as large companies have no problem buying smaller companies for strategic reasons and then letting them die a painful death. In fact, if you walk around Mountain View or Palo Alto downtown, you can see many folks who sold their companies to the likes of Google and now wandering around wondering how it disappeared.
Phil further points out to another very important question which should be in the minds of industry observers and analysts.
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
Once again, this is very important for the very future of SaaS and the absence of any platform neutral integration provider is a disaster for enterprise adoption of SaaS and other cloud services.
However, I see this differently and I expect to see Dell stay in the place of platform-neutral integration of cloud services. I will explain my reasoning below. Before I do that, I want to put this disclaimer that I can be totally wrong because many times big vendors act in a schizophrenic manner and Dell may end up doing exactly what Phil is worried about.
Having made the disclaimer, let me explain why this may not happen. Dell is realizing that the idea of unified computing stack, promoted by companies like Cisco, IBM, HP and Oracle are making CIOs to take a hard look at the offerings. However, Dell is also seeing the concerns about vendor lock-ins with such integrated stacks. But, Dell doesn’t have the necessary components to offer a competing stack like the other companies. So, they are taking the open mantra to lure enterprises into their fold. Using their Scalent acquisition and partnership (possible acquisition?) with DynamicOps, they have released Virtual Integrated System Architecture. This offers a single interface to provision infrastructure services from many different sources (without being locked into one vendor). The VIS self service creator component will allow enterprises to deploy any workload independent of hypervisor/software/hardware platforms. Derrick Harris has clearly identified this trend and has written an interesting article on this strategy of Dell on GigaOm Pro (Subscription Reqd.). In fact, one of the interesting argument put forward by Dell on this approach is that Dell’s “unified approach” doesn’t expect any tear down of the existing approach rather their cloud will work seamlessly with the existing infrastructure. Clearly, Dell want to tell their potential customers that they are not going to lock them in like the other vendors offering similar stack.
As Dell goes up the stack, they understand their disadvantaged position in the SaaS layer and instead of buying SaaS vendors to offer something in that part of the stack, they want to use the open mantra and let their customers choose applications vendors of their choice. Having a platform-neutral integrator like Boomi will be crucial to the success of this strategy. Now they can top off with consulting services and offer an “open distributed but unified stack” as an alternative to what companies like IBM, Oracle, etc. offer.
I do agree that this is more of a speculation and may even border along conspiracy theory but I just want to throw this up in public and let others poke hole in this argument. If this is Dell’s strategy going forward, I wouldn’t worry about the fate of Boomi and, in fact, we will end up having a platform-neutral integration service coming from an established vendor. What do you think? Is it just a delusion of mine or Dell may actually end up disrupting the market with a more open approach?
- Panic buying spree hits cloud integration (zdnet.com)
- Dell Buys Boomi: Right Inline With My Cloud Strategy (enterpriseirregulars.com)
- Quick Thoughts: Dell Acquires Boomi (cloudave.com)
- 2 hidden gems in Dell’s acquisition of Boomi (customerthink.com)
- Dell heads for the cloud with Boomi buy (v3.co.uk)
- Boomi To Be Acquired By Dell: See The Details (huffingtonpost.com)