Dell uses M&A (again) to go it alone in storage

Contact: Brenon Daly

Dell’s reach for AppAssure Software continues the tech giant’s trend of using M&A to reduce its reliance on outside vendors for its $2bn storage business. Most notably, the purchase of Compellent two years ago – following its unsuccessful effort to land 3PAR – reduced Dell’s long-standing partnership with storage powerhouse EMC. In a similar vein, Dell’s acquisition Friday morning of AppAssure is likely to trim its business with data-protection specialist CommVault. (Dell is CommVault’s largest OEM partner, accounting for roughly 20% of that company’s total revenue.)

Terms weren’t revealed but we would expect that Dell paid more than $100m for AppAssure. (Whatever the amount, the deal almost certainly represents a sterling return for Bain Capital, which is AppAssure’s sole backer, having put just $6m into the five-year-old startup.) According to our understanding, AppAssure generated about $20m in 2011, triple the level from the previous year.

For comparison, CommVault stock currently trades near its all-time high. CommVault’s steady run has put the company’s valuation at an eye-popping $2.3bn, or nearly 6 times the expected $400m in revenue for its current fiscal year, which wraps up next month. Word of Dell’s purchase of rival AppAssure put some pressure on CommVault’s high-flying shares. On an otherwise bull-market day on Wall Street, CommVault stock dipped 4% on trading that was more than twice as heavy as average by early Friday afternoon. We’ll have a full report on this deal in tonight’s Daily 451.