Partners reacting to a report this morning that Dell is close to selling off SonicWall and Quest have played down the impact it would have on their business, with one likening it to "having a haircut rather than removing an organ".
According to a Reuters this morning - which has since been confirmed - Dell is in advanced talks to sell its software division for more than $2bn (£1.36bn) to Francisco Partners and Elliott Management.
SonicWall and Quest – which Dell acquired for $1.2bn and $2.4bn respectively in 2012 – would be included in the deal, but not Boomi, the report said.
This would represent the latest move by the vendor to bolster its balance sheet ahead of its $67bn acquisition of EMC. In March, Dell agreed to sell its professional services business to NTT Data for $3.06bn, before spinning off its SecureWorks security services arm in an IPO in April.
News that SonicWall and Quest could be next did not come as a surprise to Dell partners we spoke to, who had heard rumblings of such a move - which was first touted as far back as November - in recent days.
Roger Harry (pictured), CEO of Dell Premier partner Circle IT, expressed disappointment at the move, but said he hoped Dell would secure an OEM agreement with SonicWall as part of any deal.
"If you look at the SonicWall product set, it's not that well integrated. If Dell was selling off its networking or server business, it would be like having an organ removed; with SonicWall, it's like having a haircut," he said.
"We sell enterprise solutions and SonicWall fits into that portfolio, but it's a small percentage. So although it's not ideal, it's not too upsetting."
Stuart Rae, managing director of Dell Premier partner Nviron, said the prospect of Dell selling its software business to a private equity house, rather than a competitor such as HP, represented the best outcome for partners.
"It would mean we won't be able to use Dell's end-to-end marketing strategy – a single vendor going from firewalls to software to hardware – but it wouldn't make much difference in our day-to-day relationships," he said.
Neil Roberts, managing director of Dell Preferred Partner Concorde IT Group, said he felt SonicWall had lost its way under Dell's ownership, adding that he was not surprised by the rumours that Dell is selling off software assets.
"This was a predictable move, and not just because Dell has to raise money," Roberts said. "The products SonicWall traditionally made hit the spot in terms of price, functionality and performance and Dell just doesn't have a big enough background in security to champion that. I didn't see it going anywhere under Dell's leadership, and I just hope it now returns to the company it used to be."
Dell sent us the following statement:
"With regards to the Reuters piece regarding Dell Software, Dell doesn't comment on rumour or speculation. With the combination of Dell and EMC, Dell will be better positioned to meet the needs of our customers and partners today and into the future. Dell will have a very strong position in the most strategic areas of the technology of tomorrow: digital transformation, software-defined datacentre, hybrid cloud, converged infrastructure, hyper-converged infrastructure, mobile and security."
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