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The Win-Win-Win Scenario Of A Compellent And Dell Merger

On Dec. 9, Compellent and Dell announced that they "are engaged in advanced discussions regarding a possible business combination involving the two companies." I blogged about Compellent here on Oct. 8 and one day before the joint Compellent-Dell announcement.  Some voices in the industry, not associated with Network Computing, have raised thinly veiled arguments that question the sense, and value, of an acquisition of Compellent by Dell. In my opinion, Compellent will be a strong addition to both the Dell Virtual Information System (VIS) architecture and Data Center Solutions (DCS) capabilities. Should it come to fruition, this potential acquisition is a win-win-win for customers, Compellent and Dell. 

Before I cut to the chase and we take a look at the win-win-win scenario, let's talk a little bit about Dell's VIS architecture and DCS capabilities. While Dell does a great job at brand-building and clearly articulating its consumer oriented products, the company is still very much a late-stage adolescent with regard to powerfully delivering its strong message for the data center and cloud environments.

The VIS and DCS naming conventions can be confusing, so I'll take a minute and explain them. VIS is targeted at the data center, or what is now commonly referred to as the private cloud. DCS is geared toward building and tailoring custom cloud architectures. I've suggested to Dell that it rename DCS to something more akin to the actual customer cloud architectures it is building.

During the past few months I have had multiple opportunities to meet with Dell in the company's San Francisco offices and gain a full understanding of both the VIS and DCS approaches. Dell has been clear on how its compute, networking, storage and partner programs fit within VIS and DCS. From the storage perspective, an acquisition of 3PAR could have been a good fit within both approaches. Now that the 3PAR opportunity is behind them, and a Compellent opportunity stands at the forefront, we can see clearly that Dell is focused on bringing the value of storage software to its VIS and DCS solutions. Why? Because both 3PAR and Compellent have delivered exceptionally strong storage platform software capabilities and Dell has signaled the recognition of this achievement via its acquisition undertakings.  

There is no doubt that 3PAR and Compellent bring good hardware solutions to the table--3PAR, with its unique custom ASIC hardware approach, and Compellent, with its commodity approach. However, the real big-bang impact for IT is in what the storage platform software functionality can deliver by way of value to a customer's business. In my opinion, storage has always been a software problem with highly creative and valuable platform software solutions being brought to market by 3PAR, Compellent, EMC, IBM, HDS and others.  

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