Dell buys Quest Software for $2.4B. What does this mean for desktop virtualization & Citrix?

This article was originally published on May 29 as "Dell is thinking about buying Quest Software." On July 2, Dell announced definitively that this is a done deal, for $2.

This article was originally published on May 29 as "Dell is thinking about buying Quest Software." On July 2, Dell announced definitively that this is a done deal, for $2.4b. Now, what do you think?

BusinessWeek is reporting that Dell is in discussions to acquire Quest Software. This is after Quest's "go shop" period where their investors try to find the best deal possible after they announced they were planning to go private.

So, let's assume that this is a real thing and that Dell is trying to buy Quest. Is this good for Dell and the desktop virtualization industry at large? (Obviously Quest does a lot more than desktop virtualization, but since that's what we cover on this site, let's consider it from that angle.)

On the surface, it seems like a fine thing as long as Dell doesn't do anything crazy like tie the Quest software to Dell hardware. (I can't imagine them doing that.) And of course Dell just bought Wyse, so they're already thinking more strategically about desktop and application delivery in general.

Regular readers of this site know that I love vWorkspace and I feel that it's better than Citrix XenDesktop and VMware View in many ways. The challenge for Quest is they've been the third horse in a two-horse race, and whenever I mention vWorkspace to customers, I find that they're not even considering it. So maybe Dell can give vWorkspace the reinforcement they need to be seen as legitimate in this industry?

On the other hand, Dell has been good friends with Citrix and VMware. If they really push vWorkspace hard, how will it affect that relationship?

I also wonder if Dell will be able to take vWorkspace in the strategic direction they need to go. Both VMware and Citrix have wonderful stories around the "post PC" era. They've both outlined their vision for delivering Windows, web, and native apps to multiple devices and form factors. (Check out VMware Horizon and Citrix Cloud Gateway for details.) So while I feel confident that both VMware and Citrix "get it," Quest has yet to show any leadership here at all. (It's even more frustrating that Quest has 90% of the products needed to do this in their portfolio already—they just need something to tie it altogether.) Can Dell be that company? Don't hold your breath.

So is this Dell move brilliant? Or is it an easy win that lets them check the "complete solution" box on their 10-K? Will it even happen? What do you think?

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