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Dell's Perot Bid A $3.9 Billion Gamble

Dell (Dell)'s proposed $3.9 billion buyout of Perot Systems could be a boon for enterprises looking to implement new wave architectures like virtualization and cloud computing. But those benefits will only be realized if Dell can manage thorny integration challenges bound to arise as it looks to absorb an organization known for its rigid, by-the-book culture and reliance on a market—healthcare—where the PC manufacturer has little experience.

Adding to the uncertainty is Dell's status as a neophyte when it comes to both IT services and M&As. Not that there isn't a solid plan in place. Dell wants to marry its hardware and automation software with Perot's integration and outsourcing services so it can offer business customers end-to-end computing solutions, mirroring earlier moves by rivals HP  and IBM. The piece parts are all there, in theory at least.

Dell has the iron and applications needed to form the bedrock of advanced data center setups. The company, for instance, has partnered with VMware to bundle the latter's View offering with its Latitude and Optiplex client machines and PowerEdge servers to create an off-the-shelf virtualization package. It's also tweaked a line of servers to deliver optimum performance on Microsoft's cloud-based Azure operating system.

Perot, meanwhile, brings expertise around integration, deployment, and systems management. Just weeks ago the company launched a cloud integration service under which it advises customers on various hosted offerings, combines cloud-based products from different vendors, vets them for security issues, and--if the customer chooses--hosts and manages it all from one of its massive data centers.

Michael Dell thinks it's a winning hand. "The result will be the combination of two iconic IT brands who share a common vision of reducing IT complexity and total cost of ownership for our customers around the globe," Dell said at a press conference Monday. "This acquisition makes great sense because of the obvious ways our businesses complement each other and enables us to grow profitably over time," Dell said.

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