Dell Adds To Boomi's Cloud Integration Capabilities

Acquired by Dell last November to help businesses "reap the full value of cloud computing," Boomi is getting a facelift to help customers achieve greater enterprise efficiency while leveraging existing IT investments. According to the 2011 InformationWeek Analytics State of Cloud Computing Survey, integration is one of the six major areas being underfunded or ignored by CIOs. Dell wants to offer streamlined integration connections across the enterprise.

April 26, 2011

5 Min Read
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Acquired by Dell last November to help businesses "reap the full value of cloud computing," Boomi is getting a facelift to help customers achieve greater enterprise efficiency while leveraging existing IT investments. According to the 2011 InformationWeek Analytics State of Cloud Computing Survey, integration is one of the six major areas being underfunded or ignored by CIOs. Dell wants to offer streamlined integration connections across the enterprise.

The new version of Dell Boomi AtomSphere, Spring 11, includes capabilities for middleware connectivity, large-scale data management and migration, and anywhere integration monitoring. Designed to simplify midsize to large businesses' paths to the cloud, the software will help customers integrate the new with the old, reaping the benefits of the cloud without having to rip and replace what businesses already have, says Rick Nucci, founder and CTO of Dell Boomi.

It's one of the top concerns for cloud customers, he says. "There can be dozens of applications involved in the processes, and Boomi sits in the middle and integrates all these different systems ... and automates the process."

At first glance, the union of Boomi and Dell was not a marriage made in heaven, notes IDC's Robert Mahowald, research VP, SaaS and cloud services. "You kind of think of Dell as where an independent software company goes to die ... or to be diffused."

Before the acquisition, the belief was that HP, following in IBM's footsteps (it acquired Boomi competitor Cast Iron a year ago), would be the successful suitor. Dell made its fortune on selling commodity PCs and servers direct, but it has lately made a concerted effort to beef up its portfolio to appeal to a more enterprise market, including services and storage. "There's obviously more money on the table [for Boomi] because of Dell."The new features of Spring 11 are of the "bigger/better" variety, all of which should appeal to Dell's enterprise clients, says Charles King, principal analyst, Pund-IT. "The large data processing solution nearly triples the past performance of a single AtomSphere hub, supporting hundreds of gigabytes of data. The legacy middleware cloud gateway significantly expands the middleware platforms [and the apps built on them], which Boomi can be used to support. The Anywhere Integration Monitoring feature expands the range of Boomi's influence [encompassing both on and off-premises apps/data, as well as third-party monitoring environments] which should help breakdown data silos an easing the ways in which companies utilize cloud services."

While Boomi could have stayed independent, King says it fits very comfortably within Dell's ever-broader enterprise/data center/services focus and, in turn, significantly expands Dell's ability to expand its own services and cloud strategies. "Plus, it's likely that the Boomi team [which is relatively modest in size] would have simply been subsumed in a larger vendor. Overall, I believe the pair are a great fit."

For Rob Enderle, principal analyst, Enderle Group, the acquisition makes sense. Enterprises don't like buying from small firms, Enderle says, because they don't believe smaller vendors have the scope to cover them geographically, and there is too much risk a small company will fail. There is also a need for a heavy services component to make it work. "That would make Dell better than Oracle or IBM. But you still want Boomi to remain partially independent of the parent, and HP likes to tightly integrate its purchases, so that puts Dell ahead of HP, as well. Oddly enough, Dell's lack of software depth and their tendency to leave acquisitions operating independently make Boomi the best match for them."

That's the most significant aspect to the announcements, says Enderle--how aggressively Dell is going after the integration space. "It really felt like the firm had become something very different than what I'd grown to know Dell as. In fact, it is actually unusual to see this much focus on getting things a firm doesn't make to work together, much more common in the rip-and-replace approach which, while more lucrative on paper, is hated by IT buyers for its cost. You typically see an approach like this as a cornerstone of a services vendor. It is the absolute right approach to the problem from the perspective of the buyer, but hardware sellers, in my experience, just can't get around the thought of not driving more hardware sales initially."

Though, strategically, tools like this create relationships that over the long term can be far more lucrative, says Enderle, most executives are taught to think quarter to quarter and will refuse to see this kind of opportunity. "It is one of the attributes of a founder, though: Founders tend to think about the long-term health of their companies and are more likely to sacrifice short-term opportunities in order to get it."Looking at the overall cloud integration market, King sees two trends as paramount: 1.) the complexity of integrating the dozens, hundreds or thousands of often unique or customized legacy applications that populate any enterprise, and 2.) the process by which companies connect their internal apps/data resources to external cloud providers. "Boomi's new and improved features should help their and Dell's enterprise customers explore and achieve both of those processes far more easily than ever before," says Enderle.

Enderle says consolidation is likely the largest trend in this segment, with most industries currently undergoing massive consolidation that is driving systems together at an impressive rate. "These systems were never designed with the idea they would work with any others, and many have creators who have long since retired, making integration difficult."

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