Dell's portfolio already includes servers, storage and some networking. Force10, which started life as a high-end, 10Gbit/s Ethernet switch vendor, has been tuning its business for low-latency networking and the cloud lately.
Why this matters
There's a battle brewing among the big vendors in data-center networking. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) have been deeply engaged; Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) have offered their own data-center packages, with partners providing the servers; and now Dell apparently wants a shot.
The popular rumor has been that Dell would acquire Brocade, although the price tag would have been in the billions. Dell's press release doesn't mention an acquisition price -- implying it's a small price compared with Dell's US$32 billion valuation -- but it does describe Force10 as "nearly a $200-million company, based on trailing 12 months revenue, with approximately 80 percent of its business in North America and operating in over 60 countries worldwide."
The deal would mean that Force10, which has been around since 1999, no longer has to answer awkward questions about its oft-delayed IPO.
It's unclear what Dell would do with the Turin piece of Force10.
Force10's long history includes at least two IPO attempts and, of course, the 2009 merger with Turin. Let's stick to the more recent parts of the story:
- Dell to Acquire Force10
- Force10 Launches Open Cloud Networking
- Force10's Fabric Is a Quilt
- Force10 Pushes 40GigE
- Force10 Intros New Ethernet Switch
- IBM Resells More Force10
- Force10 Files for an IPO
- Force10 Strikes at the Core
- Force10 Reports Improved Q4
- Force10 Thinks 'Exa'
- Force10, Turin Play Convergence Card
- Force10, Turin to Merge
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading