Dell plans to acquire KACE Networks in a move to beef up its compliance and systems management offerings for midsized businesses.
Terms of the deal to buy the privately held systems management appliance company were not disclosed.
That's the second purchase this week for Dell (NASDAQ: DELL), which is not normally an acquisitive company. Earlier in the week, it purchased the assets of Exanet, a bankrupt Israeli company that makes Linux-based clustered network-attached storage management software.
While not known for making many acquisitions, Dell does seem to have an eye for systems management software for the SMB market. It bought SilverBack Technologies in July 2007, acquired Everdream in November 2007, bought MessageOne in February 2008 and now Exanet and KACE.
KACE, based in Mountain View, Calif., is best known for its KBOX system. KBOX supports Windows, Mac and Linux. The company focuses on the mid-size market and public institutions like government, education and healthcare and claims 1,400 customers.
"We talk directly to thousands of these customers and they tell us they need systems-management tools geared for their environment," Steve Felice, President of Dell Consumer and Small and Medium Business (CSMB), said in a statement. "The KBOX family of appliances is highly capable, quick to deploy, simple to use and provides a rapid return on investment, exactly the sort of best-value solutions were delivering to customers."
KBOX systems handle device discovery, system inventory, asset management, configuration management including operating system deployment, power management software distribution, application virtualization and scripting, system deployment, imaging and Windows 7 migration, and a number of other deployment and monitoring functions.
The company said most KACE customers report having deployed their KBOX appliances in a week or less, and almost two-thirds said that the products paid for themselves in less than three months.
Andi Mann, vice president of research for servers and storage systems at Enterprise Management Associates, thinks Dell's buying spree in the mid range is a sign that it's trying to find a market that's under a cloud -- so to speak.
"I think they are getting concerned about the cloud proposition people like HP and IBM, and they want to be able to get a better toehold in the SMB market. KACE definitely helps them do that," he told InternetNews.com.
"Cloud computing generally is a threat to someone like Dell because Dell sells on-premises solutions. Anything they can do to make on-premises computing more appealing and a turnkey solution is in their best interest," Mann added.