Thats the word from Do IT Smarter President Lane Smith, who told The Channel Insider today he had heard rumblings of a possible SilverBack sale, but found out about the Dells planned acquisition when it was announced July 18.
Learning that Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, was the acquirer came as a surprise, Smith said. What the deal means to SilverBacks 150 or so partners remains to be seen, Smith said, but initial reports are positive. Still, Do IT Smarter will keep its options open and consider replacing SilverBack with one of its competitors if need be, he added.
"I certainly wasnt expecting Dell to come into this market," he said. "It could have been anybody; this industry is really hot right now.
Smith was referring to the managed services market space, which in the last two years has gotten a lot of attention as more and more VARs and integrators attempt to transform themselves into MSPs (managed services providers). MSPs charge monthly, quarterly or yearly fees for IT services performed remotely.
Do IT Smarter went into business as an MSP but the company has made the transition to "master MSP," positioning itself between vendors and MSPs as new type of distributor. As such, Do IT Smarter aggregates technology and services from such vendors as SilverBack, SonicWall and Xerox, and funnels them to partners.
Smith said he has heard from a number of partners today that are concerned about the Dell acquisition.
"Everybodys just a bit surprised and concerned. Were telling at them this point not to worry," he said.
One of those partners was The I.T. Pros, a managed service provider based in San Diego, which that also does business with Dell.
"We were surprised," said Doug Ford, CEO. "Our Dell rep just came out a few weeks ago and did a big thing with us to go with their Open Manage solution, which is their current managed services offering."
According to Ford, the Dell offering is not as good as SilverBack, and is very different from that platform vendors offering.
The Dell move could be of great benefit to The I.T. Pros if Dell pre-installs SilverBack technologies into its servers and charges less to use the technology than the MSP is currently paying. On the other hand, if Dell charges more, that would be a setback.
Dell currently offers DRACs (Dell Remote Access Cards) for about $300 each, which tap into the companys Open Manage technology and allow companies to remotely manage servers.
If necessary, Ford said that The I.T. Pros would switch its managed services offering to a new platform. But with so many customers out there using the technology, making the switch would be a big job.
But thats an expected cost of doing business for MSPs these days as the market for platform providers remains unstable — subject to acquisitions, mergers and other changes. Ford pointed to long-standing rumors of a Microsoft acquisition of Level Platforms.
"Ultimately it doesnt matter what we use as long as it works and as long as we can make money doing it," Ford said. But not all VARs and MSP have such a Dell-friendly attitude.
Though Dell has started to move toward embracing the channel, the PC maker has a long history of antagonizing it by urging customers to "cut out the middleman" and buy directly from the vendor.
Smith said he heard from SilverBack CEO Dan Phillips after the deal was announced, and Phillips told him the Dell purchase will mean more people and resources at SilverBack. If so, Smith said, that would be good for partners.
Smith said he will wait and see. If the acquisition turns out to be bad for partners, Do IT Smarter would reconsider its relationship with SilverBack.
Ultimately, Smith said, he is happy that Do IT Smarter made an early decision to partner with other vendors for its palette of remote services, which include remote backup, disaster recovery and security, rather than remaining dependent on SilverBack alone.