Backup should be about reducing your uncertainty and risk, not turning you into some sort of wandering paranoid insomniac zombie worrying about whether your backup solution is going to still be around in a few months. Because remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that Dell isn’t out to get you – or at least your backup.

Reuters reported yesterday Dell had bid $2.32B to buy Quest Software. Reuters also did an excellent job of laying out the timeline for what appears to be a bidding war for Quest Software. Fascinating stuff.

From a backup perspective, here are the moves Dell has recently made or is reported to be making:

  • Purchased AppAssure for a rumored $194M. AppAssure makes a Windows-only block backup agent with some virtualization features.
  • Purchased SonicWall for a reported$1.2B. SonicWall has the SonicWall CDP line of backup appliances.
  • Quest has its virtualization-only vRanger backup software product, its NetVault backup product, and its LightSpeed SQL Server and Oracle backup products.

This gets even more interesting when you consider all of the other backup alliances Dell has:

  • Dell and Symantec sold together a Dell PowerVault DL server with Backup Exec on it. This relationship hit the rocks a while back with Symantec’s Backup Exec 3600 and Netbackup 5200 backup appliances.
  • Dell and CommVault sell together a Dell PowerVault DL server with CommVault Simpana on it. Dell is rumored to account for 20% to 25% of all of CommVault’s revenue. The Dell and CommVault relationship is probably a bit strained with Dell announcing that AppAssure is its premier backup product.

There’s an old joke about any acquiring software company you dislike being the “place that old software goes to die.” I think that’s too easy here. Dell has signaled clearly with its hiring of John Swainson that it intends to become a software company. Swainson is a former IBM executive who reportedly did a good job turning CA around – a good article from Forrester concerning Dell, CA, and Swainson is available at ZDnet and calls out customer obsession (see the title of this blog) and partner ecosystem as being the two ways Swainson did that.

For backup customers, however, Dell now has a whole bunch of disparate backup software with no overall plan (or at least, without any plan they are willing to tell their customers and resellers.) This increases the uncertainty. And backup should be about decreasing, not increasing, uncertainty.