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VMware sells off Shavlik patch management tools to LANDesk

Forget hardware nannying, we're all about software-defined everything

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With new sheriff Pat Gelsinger now running the company for the past six months, VMware is getting more focused on its software-defined data center product line, extending up from basic server virtualization to the heavens, and is spinning off anything that is not directly supportive of its goals for virtualized data center and endpoint computing. Thus, the patch management software from Shavlik went on the block, and LANDesk, itself a spinout from Intel, snapped it up.

VMware partnered with Shavlik Technologies back in the summer of 2009 to cook up a SaaS server virtualization control freak for SMBs called Go, which gave some management functionality to its freebie ESXi bare-metal server virtualization hypervisor as well as the earlier VM Server (formerly GSX Server) hosted hypervisor, which ran atop Windows or Linux operating systems.

While Go was never anything as sophisticated as the vCenter Server management console, it was good enough for basic VM management on a couple of servers. So in May 2011, VMware snapped up Shavlik for an undisclosed sum.

The idea was that VMware would not only use the Go service but also the network and server patch management tools that Shavlik was more famous for and provide a complete hardware and virtualization management stack. This seemed like a perfectly logical thing to do at the time, and it still makes sense.

At the time VMware acquired Shavlik, it had over 3,500 customers worldwide, not including the 200,000 registered users for the Go hypervisor and virtual machine management service.

The company was founded by Mark Shavlik, a developer at Microsoft from 1986 to 1993 who was one of the early coders working on what would become the Windows NT operating system. Shavlik left Microsoft and set up a security and patching consultancy specifically for Windows NT platforms, which were turned into commercial products.

Financial terms of the acquisition of the Shavlik Protect patch management tools were not disclosed. Sources at LANDesk tell El Reg that the deal has closed and that about 40 employees who worked on the Shavlik Protect tools are moving over to LANDesk. The plan is to double the headcount for the Protect line of patch management products over the next year at LANDesk.

LANDesk has scratched off the VMware brands and put the Shavlik name back on them. So VMware vCenter Protect Standard becomes Shavlik Protect Standard; VMware vCenter Protect Advanced becomes Shavlik Protect Advanced; VMware vCenter Protect Update Catalog becomes Shavlik SCUPDates; and VMware vCenter Protect Engine becomes Shavlik Patch SDK.

Under the deal, VMware is now a technology and services partner, and will be working to integrate Shavlik Protect asset inventory and patch and network management tools with VMware's vCenter and vCloud control freakage.

It is not clear yet how LANDesk will merge the Shavlik tools into its LANDesk Management Automation Platform or its variant that, like the Go service, runs on a cloud. LANDesk already had its own patch management and security tools, so it didn't really need the VMware Shavlik tools.

What it did need was better hooks into virtual servers, which its LANDesk Management Suite lacks. VMware did a lot of this work with Shavlik, and it stands to reason that over time that code and expertise will make its way into LANDesk products.

LANDesk will probably aim the Shavlik products at SMBs and its eponymous tools at larger enterprises with more complex systems management needs, but the company did not elaborate on its strategy. Both LANDesk and Shavlik tools plug into Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, and this is what really matters.

LANDesk is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is owned by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, which bought it in August 2010. In fiscal 2009, the company had an estimated $150m in revenues and around 750 employees, working both in Salt Lake City and at development labs in London and Beijing.

LANdesk was founded in 1985 and was bought by Intel in 1991 when it had aspirations to patch the PCs based on its x86 processors. The company was spun out of Intel in 2002 with funds from venture capitalist firms Vector Capital and vSpring Capital. In 2006, KVM management switch maker Avocent bought LANDesk for $416m, and after Emerson Electric acquired Avocent in late 2009, LANDesk was spun out again and sold the next year to Thoma Bravo.

For its part, VMware is unapologetic about having spent money on Shavlik just to sell it again. "In 2013, VMware is executing against three priorities – software-defined data center, hybrid cloud and end-user computing," explained Ramin Sayer, general manager of cloud infrastructure and management at VMware in a blog post. "As part of our efforts to focus on these areas, we came to the conclusion that asset and patch management as a standalone offering would be best provided by a partner such as LANDesk." ®

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