VMware Acquires Shavlik: Where Has The Innovation Gone?

VMware has agreed to acquire Shavlik Technologies; the terms of transaction were not disclosed.  Shavlik was founded in 1993, is headquartered in Minnesota, and offers a full suite of products to manage physical or virtual servers and laptops/desktops.  Shavlik is no stranger to VMware as the companies jointly developed VMware GO, a SaaS based IT management offering.

While Shavlik is an excellent acquisition for VMware as their technology is solid and they are sure to grow faster under VMware’s umbrella, the question is why?  VMware paints this acquisition as a way to increase their penetration within small and medium business (SMB).  Mark Shavlik, President and CEO, writes via his blog, “We will also be entering global markets much faster by working with Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Solution Providers. This enables more companies around the world to utilize our SaaS and On-Premise solutions.”  If Shavlik’s solution can scale to meet the needs of MSPs and Solution Providers, then is it really simply a SMB solution?

Perhaps it’s just me, but this whole thing seems a bit scripted for my taste.  From the press release to the blog post to the media coverage, it feels a bit like listening to politicians running through their talking points.   In an effort to shield themselves from the wrath of traditional IT management companies such as Symantec, HP, LANDesk, and IBM, Is VMware intentionally downplaying Shavlik’s capabilities?  After all, VMware has acquired a company that has full management capabilities including antivirus, patch management, configuration management, asset management, and power management.

At a time when VMware’s Enterprise dominance is being challenged by both Microsoft and Red Hat, Shavlik looks to be a defensive acquisition to protect the lower end of the market.  However, how many people have heard about VMware Go prior to this acquisition?  Will VMware roll Shavlik’s products into Ionix rationalizing the overlap with Configuresoft?   Does this help VMware with Hybrid Clouds?  Public Clouds?  Workloads?

More importantly, has VMware become so large that they have lost the ability to innovate and disrupt a market that they created?  This is not VMware’s first acquisition from their 3rd party partner ecosystem, and I suspect it is not their last.  VMworld 2011 is certainly going to be interesting!

Dell Looks to “Scale” While IBM Gets a “Fix”

Dell has quietly acquired Scalent Systems for an undisclosed sum.  Scalent was an early entrant into the world of management of the next generation data center.  In fact, Scalent had a bit of a rivalry with Cassatt (acquired by CA) as they competed for early adopters within the industry. 

Scalent’s flagship product, Infrastructure Manager, creates a dynamic infrastructure within your data center.  It provides end-to-end provisioning (server, network, and storage), rapid provisioning of images, server identity management, high availability, and easier deployment of virtualization.  Additionally, Scalent boasts a well designed user interface and has the capacity to power a cloud computing deployment.  However, like Cassatt, Scalent was ahead of their time and one must ask if that time has passed?  

Today, VMware has continued to work on their hypervisor while realizing the future lies within creating a manageable and effective next generation data center operating system.  VMware’s vSphere allows for application and infrastructure services that allow you to virtualize servers, storage, and networking, control service levels and on-demand applications while enforcing business priorities.  Doesn’t this sound a bit like Scalent’s IM solution?

In the end, Dell had a “try before you buy” strategy with Scalent as they have OEM’d the product since 2009.  Dell is expected to roll Scalent into their Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM) solution.  Dell has long understood the need for an open management platform and Scalent is a good purchase for them.  However, Dell will need to continue to improve their capabilities against their traditional rivals in HP and IBM.

Meanwhile, IBM has acquired BigFix for an undisclosed sum.  BigFix is a systems management vendor that specializes in systems and security tools.  Built from the ground up with security in mind, BigFix offers System Lifecycle Management, Security Configuration and Vulnerability Management, EndPoint Protection, and a Unified Management Platform.  Wait, Wait, Wait…Doesn’t IBM already have Tivoli?

While Tivoli has a formidable overall product line, they don’t have a great reputation for desktop management.  Perhaps suffering from “the innovator’s dilemma”, IBM lagged behind offerings from Altiris (acquired by Symantec), Lumension (formally PatchLink), and LanDesk (spinning off from Emerson Electric).  With the acquisition of BigFix, IBM acquires a company with a stellar reputation and solid customer base.  I’d suspect that IBM’s Tivoli sales teams and their customers/prospects are chomping at the bit to get their hands on BigFix.

Although IBM’s press release says, “IBM to Acquire BigFix to Advance Smarter Data Centers”, this is really not a data center play, yet.  Although BigFix has the capacity to manage servers, their real strength is within desktop management and the emerging mobile management space.  It’s a great pick-up by IBM and BigFix will fit nicely into the Tivoli product portfolio.  Given IBM’s resources, don’t be surprised if BigFix accelerates their capabilities within server management, virtualization management, and VDI.