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SonicWall buy signals Dell's security ambitions

Dell has announced a deal to buy security equipment outfit SonicWALL for an undisclosed cash sum reported to be around the $1-$1.5 billion mark.

If this figure is correct, it would mean that private equity group Thoma Bravo will have possibly doubled its money after buying SonicWALL for $717 million in July 2010.

For the once PC-centric Dell, the significance is that it greatly expands its security profile into the security appliances and Unified Threat Management (UTM) hardware that sell well to the mid-sized companies Dell so covets.

The company will add it to a security portfolio that already includes encryption and cloud security company SecureWorks, bought in 2011, and vulnerability and patching vendor, Kace, bought in 2010.

What the clutch of acquisitions adds up to is Dell's transformation into an integrated security company, a strategy driven by the need for large tech companies to offer security products without the need for partnerships.

Although a distinctly mid-size security hardware vendor - and tiny next to Dell - SonicWALL gives the larger company a presence it badly needs.

"We are building a strategic software portfolio to address the needs of our customers with key assets in the fast-growing and highly profitable IT security solutions business. Our customers see security as a key IT concern for the foreseeable future," said Dell Software Group president, John Swainson.

"SonicWALL gives Dell access to unique intellectual property resources and technology that position us well in fast growing parts of the software security business."

As an incidental, Thoma Bravo is ridding itself of one security vendor at a healthy profit only weeks after spending $1.3 billion buying another, Blue Coat Systems.

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