Although Dell has been reselling security products in one form or another for many years, a new relationship with Juniper Networks under which Dell will sell security appliances made by Juniper under the Dell brand marks a continuing shift in the company's perception.
While Dell in the context of the enterprise is still widely thought of as a PC supplier, the company's footprint in the data center has been growing steadily. Initially, much of Dell's success in the data center could be attributed to selling standard Intel-class servers. But with the addition of storage technologies derived from its acquisition of EqualLogic and now first-class security products from Juniper, Dell is steadily moving up in terms of weight class in the data center.
According to Alex Gray, senior vice president and general manager for branch office solutions at Juniper Networks, Dell will focus mainly on selling Juniper security products to IT organizations serving employees with 100 to 500 employees, while Juniper concentrates on selling the same products to larger enterprises.
Whether everyone will stay in their proverbial sandbox once Dell starts selling Juniper products is anybody's guess. The more immediate point is that Dell is filling a security hole to more effectively compete against companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco that have extensive server, storage, networking and security portfolios.
The fact that Dell is also selling security products under its own brand name suggests that traditional IT managers, rather than security specialists, are taking over more responsibility for security. In fact, a recent poll of midmarket CIOs found that security was their number-one priority. That trend is only going to be further accelerated as the traditional IT and security management trends continue to converge.
In the meantime, it's clear that Dell wants to be seen as something more than just a box provider in the data center. And its alliance with Juniper goes a long way toward not only changing the perception of Dell, but signaling the enemies of Cisco and HP that Dell is now more than willing to be their new best friend.