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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Dell Computer Corp served notice that its intends to make a concerted effort to barge its way into the high margin services space by snapping up Plural Inc on Friday.

JOe Fay writes

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The deal, for an undisclosed amount, is the first instance of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell following through on its declared plans to get into higher margin services. At the same time, it illustrates that the vendor is likely to build up its services capability through smaller targeted acquisitions, rather than taking out one of the major players.

Plural is headquartered in New York, and also has offices in Chicago, Stamford, Connecticut, Washington DC, and Boston. Its specialty is in Microsoft platforms and its featured clients, according to its Web site, include Wells Fargo, Aventis and NASDAQ Online.

Plural has revenues of around $46m and brings with it 200 staff. Dell's current total worldwide services and support staff is 7,000. The Plural name will be maintained for an interim period.

A Dell spokesman said Dell's ambitions in the services market encompassed the full range of opportunities, including systems integration and consulting. The spokesman said it saw Plural as "an extension of our current capabilities - it enhances our professional services capabilities."

The company's services strategy would parallel its product strategy, he added, in that it would focus on "standards-based products", which in the Dell lexicon means Microsoft and Linux platforms. "The kinds of level of services we offer are of the same level of products we sell," the spokesman said.

Last month, Dell chairman and CEO, Michael Dell, told an analysts conference that the company intended to make targeted acquisitions to build up its services capability, though he warned them "don't hold your breath".

However, if Plural is typical of the sort of companies Dell intends to take over, building up a truly world class and world-wide army of consultants is going to take a lot more acquisitions

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