Dell to buy firewall manufacturer SonicWall

The private equity company that owns firewall manufacturer SonicWall Inc. has shaken hands on an offer to be bought by Dell Inc., which wants to broaden its security solutions.

The companies said Tuesday that the deal, expected to close later this year, will add to Dell’s SecureWorks managed security services, KACE vulnerability and patch management systems, cloud security solutions and data encryption solutions, the company said. Terms were not disclosed.

Thoma Bravo LLC led an investor group including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan that took SonicWall private in 2010 for about US$717 million.

At the time, said Forrester Research security analyst John Kindervag, SonicWall wasn’t marketing its products well to enterprises. Now, with Dell [Nasdaq: DELL] behind it, that will change.

“It gives Dell a more enterprise security play,” he said, and helps reduce the company’s dependency on the PC market.

Last year Dell bought switch manufacturer Force 10 Networks, Kindervag also noted. “If they can figure how to integrate, it could be a significant play for people who want another choice in integrated security and networking other than Cisco, Juniper, HP.”

Founded in 1991, SonicWall makes the SuperMassive next-generation firewalls and NSA- and TZ-series unified threat management appliances.

SonicWall products are sold through 15,000 resellers around the world, and Dell plans to add to that through its PartnerDirect program.

“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,” Dell Software Group president John Swainson said in a press release. “SonicWall gives Dell access to unique intellectual property resources and technology that position us well in fast growing parts of the software security business.”

In the same release, SonicWall CEO Matt Medeiros said the deal “allows us to accelerate growth of our flagship SuperMassive Next-Generation Firewall solutions with large Enterprise customers.”

Dell’s reach will also help SonicWall expand opportunities with small and medium-sized customers, he added.

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