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Dell drops $3.9 billion on new services business

I realize I’m dating myself here, but I get a kick out of seeing H. Ross Perot Jr. surfacing in the news this morning with the announcement that Dell Inc. has bought his IT services company Perot Systems. Perot is the son of onetime US Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot Sr., who was a prominent and colorful character in the first American national elections I was old enough to be aware of at the time, in 1992 and 1996.

This acquisition isn’t directly related to storage — industry observers like Steve Duplessie describe it as analogous to Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. buying EDS. However, storage is included in the infrastructure services Perot Systems offers. Also relevant to the storage world is the work the two companies have already been doing in the electronic medical records space, an area where storage managers in healthcare IT are struggling right now.

One Wall Street analyst who follows the storage market predicted the deal could have a short-term impact on shares of CommVault Systems Inc., writing in a note to clients this morning,

We believe shares of CommVault, which have been up approximately 109% since the early March lows and approximately 30% over the past three months…have been partially driven by investor sentiment on the thesis that the company would be on a short-list of potential acquisition candidates for Dell.

“While I agree that Dell may be less likely to acquire in general due to this major outlay, I see Perot and Commvault as filling very different needs within the Dell portfolio,” wrote Forrester Research analyst Andrew Reichman in an email to Storage Soup. “If they needed it before Perot, they still need it after, so I disagree that this takes Commvault off the table.”

Added Gartner analyst David Russell, “I think that a counter argument could be made that the Dell/Perot deal could lead to expanded CommVault sales if a backup and archiving practice is established.”

The Taneja Group’s Jeff Boles said this deal raises questions for him about the impact on EqualLogic services. “What does Dell/Perot do for EqualLogic? What do they do with EqualLogic within an increasingly virtual infrastructure? EqualLogic has great scale, and great economics – there might be a tremendous solution set here that gets really energized in the larger scale business through this professional services coupling.”

Dell has announced SaaS services for storage, and Perot’s SaaS expertise was also emphasized in this morning’s announcement. But, as is to be expected this soon after an acquisition agreement, Dell’s not yet revealing its plans.

“We view this acquisition as completely complementary to Dell’s current services business,” said a spokesperson reached today for comment by Storage Soup. “We have begun integration planning and will have more information on it upon closing.”

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