Management software vendor LANDESK announced Monday that they have signed a definitive agreement to acquire AppSense, which makes solutions that improve security of user environments. While this is LANDESK’s seventh acquisition in the last five years, this one is the most significant. For LANDESK, as well as the partners of both LANDESK and AppSense, it is a very big deal. It significantly extends LANDESK’s capabilities, furthering a total Unified Endpoint Management strategy, and expanding their total addressable market both to new customers and to new areas within their existing install base. Steve Daly, LANDESK’s CEO, talked with ChannelBuzz about the ramifications of the deal.
Daly said that the two companies are strongly complementary.
“From the LANDesk perspective, we have a user management solution and that is about how you keep the end user environment up and running.” He said. “Where it’s virtual or mobile is where AppSense gets interesting for us. The second piece is security. We focus on operational security. We do patching, security suite, and endpoint protection. AppSense invested recently in privilege management and access control, which rounds out our security solution in a nice way. A privilege management system that enforces admin rights can cut down on 85 per cent of vulnerabilities. With what they do in app control, and what we do in patching, it’s a great solution for our security customers.” Together with industrial mobility those are the core pillars of LANDESK’s business.
“AppSense lets us walk into a customer and say we have the entire end user estate covered, whether physical or virtual, PC or other form factor,” Daly said. “We haven’t had that completeness before. We had no whitelisting or privilege management, as AppSense does. And all our solutions were targeted at physical endpoints. We had nothing on virtual, when people wanted part of their estate virtual.”
Daly said that LANDESK had followed AppSense for a long time because of the congruences between the companies, and had discussed the possibilities of a deal off and on.
“Once we started to engage in serious talks, the deal took four or five months to work out,” he said.
Daly stated that the combination of the two companies will significantly change the potential markets of both LANDESK and AppSense’s partners.
“We see a major change in the addressable markets, both on the security side and user environment side,” he indicated. “What we find is when people look at virtualization, very few virtualize the whole environment. So having virtualization capability gives us more footprint within our customer base. It’s a ‘land and expand’ strategy. From a vertical perspective, while we were both strong in health care, they had also sold well into banking and financial services, which will help us there.”
Daly also indicated that AppSense’s markets will be expanded under LANDESK, which will assist their partners.
“Historically, desktop virtualization has been targeted at Windows, and that was AppSense’s focus, and that will also be the lions share of the opportunity going forward.” He said. “But in the recent past they have broadened into more of the physical devices. We want to make those more cross-platform. Their product has also been available only in English. Ours is available in 11 different languages, and we will invest to broaden their language availability out of the gate. You can sell to some companies in non-English speaking countries with an English-only product, but it does limit the market.”
AppSense had had extensive partnering agreements with companies who are also nominal competitors, like Microsoft, VMware and Citrix, and Daly said that the co-opetition strategy won’t change under LANDESK.
“We think there is still that opportunity to enhance and provide the value that these other vendors don’t provide,” he said. “AppSense just does stuff that their platforms won’t do today, and they help those other vendors. We see that continuing forward after the acquisition closes.”
For LANDESK and AppSense channel partners, the key issue of course is how everything will shake out once the two companies are one. LANDESK has a hybrid go-to-market model, with about 80 per cent of their business going through partners, up from 75 per cent last year. AppSense also has a hybrid model. Daly said that they had just met with AppSense’s partners at the AppSense Elevate partner event in New Orleans, and he said that while there was some expected fear and trepidation, he was encouraged by the response.
“I would describe the reaction from their partners as cautious optimism, because they will now have access to more holistic solutions,” he said. “There were a lot of questions about tactical things in our program, and concerns about how channel friendly we are. We are confident time will ease the normal fear and trepidation.”
It will likely take some time to integrate the two channel programs once the deal closes.
“My feel is that there are a lot of similarities in the two channel programs, but we don’t want to be hasty and upset the applecart,” Daly said. “The mantra for us is to do no harm. They have some great partners that have done well, who are working on large deals, and we don’t want to take those off the rails. So while I think 12-18 months is realistic for the program integration, we hope we can do it in quicker fashion.”
Interestingly, there is very little overlap between the two companies’ solution provider channels.
“We don’t see a lot of channel overlap in resellers – almost zero from a channel perspective on the virtualization side, and only a little on the security side.”
Daly said that channel partners will be big winners from the deal.
“This gives both sides of the business a much more robust solution,” he said. “We’ve seen many IT organizations struggle with how business has changed so much in the last five years. There are now so many form factors – from mobile devices, streaming apps to virtual desktops – and end users’ expectations have changed so much, especially now that it is easy to get IT services from outside their organizations. We now have a way to let partners present to the end user a full face to IT, and secure a chance for much more strategic relationships. They can be much more strategic to their accounts, rather than just a point product supplier.”