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Dell names ex-CA CEO as software chief

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Dell has appointed a former tech company CEO and blue-chip middleware executive to lead its software group.

John Swainson has just been named president of Dell’s software business – and he's due to start on 5 March. Swainson will report to Michael Dell, company chairman and CEO.

Swainson was CEO of CA between 2005 and 2009 and before that an IBMer. He had served as general manager of IBM’s application integration and middleware division in the company’s software group between 1997 and 2004, and spent the year before leaving IBM as vice president of the software group’s worldwide sales and marketing.

Running application integration and middleware at IBM placed Swainson in charge of IBM’s successful WebSphere and Rational brands. CA's main deal is systems management.

Given his background, it sounds like Swainson’s mission at Dell will be to build and sell “solutions” – the kind of things tech vendors like to target at suites and CIO types. In this case solutions will mean Dell hardware and software coming with blueprints, best practices and consulting services.

CEO Dell said in a statement:

I look forward to working with John as he expands our enterprise solutions and builds on our software capabilities.

The addition of software, both within the software group and across all of Dell, will help catalyze our transformation… As software will be a part of all of our products and services, the group's success will be largely be measured by the success of Dell overall.

Swainson said it was “an exciting time” to join Dell.

Dell is the world’s third-largest supplier of PCs but like market number one Hewlett-Packard, Dell is trying to get beyond "just" selling PCs – a market suffering all kinds of contortions. Software and the cloud in particular are being seen as PC-makers’ best means of diversification.

To help its drive, HP in May 2010 hired Microsoft’s Bill Veghte, a Windows senior vice president who had spent more than 19 years with the world’s largest software company developing Windows right up until Windows 7. He was overtaken by Steven Sinofsky in the race to run the Windows group. HP named Veghte its chief strategy officer in January this year under new CEO Meg Whitman, with a remit that includes leading HP’s cloud and open-source initiatives. ®

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