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Dell inhales Gale Technologies to blow away cloud rivals

Sets up Enterprise Solutions group, taps networker to run it

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Texan tech titan Dell is trying to turn itself into Big Blue, just like HP, Oracle, and Cisco Systems: its data center business was the one bright spot in its dismal third quarter financials reported last night.

As we said at the end of our report that with $11.3bn in cash and equivalents in the bank, we would not be surprised if Dell picked up more software or cloudy businesses. That didn't take long. On Friday morning, Dell inhaled Gale Technologies, which is without a doubt the company's reaction to VMware's acquisition of DynamicOps in July.

Dell has eaten a number of different companies that gave it tools to help manage physical and cloudy infrastructure, but the Cloud Automation Manager self-service catalog that is the front-end of Dell's Virtual Integrated System (VIS) cloud management stack is based on DynamicOps.

There's nothing wrong with that, except that Dell – rather than VMware – should have acquired DynamicOps. Now it's missed its opportunity. The other part of the VIS stack, called Advanced Infrastructure Manager, is an out-of-band manager for physical and virtual data center infrastructure, including servers, storage, and networking, and Dell had originally licensed this code from Scalentin September 2009, but wisely acquired Scalent in July 2010.

Dell's announcement of the acquisition of Gale Technologies does not explain its rationale for the deal from a product point of view. But from the outside, it looks like Dell was shopping around for a new portal and decided to take the whole tool.

Dell has not said what rights it has over the DynamicOps code or how it will integrate (or not) the VIS-AIM mashup of DynamicOps and Scalent – which was rebranded as Active System Manager in October because marketing people have to do something – with GaleForce, the infrastructure-management platform created by Gale Technologies.

All that Marius Hass, an ex-HPer running Dell's Enterprise Solutions Group, said was that it "integrates well" with the AIM tools. Dell said that GaleForce would be available early next year on its vStart pre-configured clouds, which it has been shipping for years, and on the new Active System 800 machines, launched in October as a replacement for the vStarts. Dell will support other iron from other vendors in later releases.

That won't be particularly hard, of course, since GaleForce was designed from the beginning to manage a mix of servers, storage, and switching from various vendors and product lines.

Gale Technologies, headquartered in Santa Clara, uncloaked from stealth modein March 2011 after being mashed up from the network management and "lab management" software tools from Edentree Technologies and QuickCycle.

(Lab management means software-test lab management, and it is something that developers and QA managers use to spin up and rip down testing environments quickly to stress test code before it goes into production.)

When the company uncloaked, the GaleForce tool was extended from network management to include servers and storage, and Gale Technologies created over 130 resource adapters, which are agents that allow GaleForce to act as a control freak for physical or virtual devices.

Those adapters could plug into all of the popular x86 servers, internal and external storage arrays, switches, and network appliances on the physical side, plus the ESXi hypervisor from VMware and the XenServer hypervisor from Citrix Systems. GaleForce was extended in January of this year with a 6.0 release to support Red Hat's KVM hypervisor.

Amazon EC2 and Rackspace Cloud cloudy infrastructure can also be control-freaked by GaleForce, and in May's 6.1 release, GaleForce finally supported Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor and integrated with Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud pre-configured systems and its Elastic Block Store storage service.

The 6.1 release can also boss around Cisco's Nexus 1000V and VMware's vSwitch virtual switches, and it added a Python framework so other companies could create agents for GaleForce, which has open APIs.

Dell promises to support Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware's ESXi with a future release of Active System Manager, with a "complementary product" based on GaleForce. It did not mention XenServer or KVM, but it is hard to imagine that Dell with deprecate hypervisor support with GaleForce.

Financial terms of the GaleForce deal were not disclosed, and Gale Technologies did not have venture capital funding, so it's hard to hazard a guess of what it might have fetched. Dell says it will retain Gale Technologies employees and invest in its sales and engineering teams.

In a related move, Dell is building a more byzantine management hierarchy as it tries to create an enterprise IT organization that does more than shift boxes. To that end, the company has created a cross-divisional management layer called the Enterprise Systems and Solutions organization, and has tapped Dario Zamarian, an ex-Cisco exec hired by Dell two years ago to run its fledgling networking business, to be vice president and general manager of ES&S. This organization will be assembling, testing, and peddling Dell's integrated Active System iron.

Dell has also brought in Tom Burns, who leaves the post of vice-president of the Enterprise Product Group at network equipment supplier Alcatel-Lucent, to run its networking unit. ®

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