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Quest Software, its Toad tool leaping over to Dell

Dell plans to acquire Quest Software, maker of the Oracle Database development tool Toad. End users said Dell could improve Toad and adapt it for larger tech trends like “big data.”

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Dell announced Monday that it intends to acquire Quest Software Inc., maker of the popular Oracle database development tool Toad.

One longtime user said the acquisition will be successful if Dell adopts the Aliso Viejo, Calif., company’s culture of “leading with the product.”

“I understand Quest and I work with people at Quest,” said John Weathington, president and CEO of San Francisco-based technology consultancy Excellent Management Systems Inc. “They just want to build the best product. They need to bring the culture of Quest into Dell, and I hope that Dell embraces that instead of adjusting the culture somehow.”

Ray Lefebvre, assistant vice president of applications and development at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Mass., echoed Weathington’s sentiments. Lefebvre was formerly the director of database reporting at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and has used Toad for Oracle and SQL Server at both schools. He’s been using the tool since the mid-1990s and said that without Toad, development teams would have to rely on “brute force.”

On the acquisition of Quest, he said he hopes Dell “will invest in, and expand, their product lines.”

Weathington has also been using Toad since the mid-1990s, before Quest was even selling it. Toad was first developed in the ’90s by an Oracle developer, Jim McDaniel, who was known as TOADman. Toad was originally TOAD, an acronym that stood for Tool for Oracle Application Developers. McDaniel developed the tool for his own use at Oracle, and then made it available as freeware shortly after. In 1998, Quest Software bought TOAD and, alongside free versions that exist today, developed commercial versions.

Weathington sees parallels between the two acquisitions. Back in 1998, he said the biggest transition was moving from a free product to a commercial one. Skeptical at first, Weathington came around when he saw how Quest put resources into developing the product. He hopes the same will happen with Dell.

“I have a feeling that Dell is in a better position to capitalize on some of the new technologies,” he said. “I know Quest was working on a cloud version of Toad, but in my opinion it wasn’t as robust as it could be.”

Weathington added that Dell could also help Toad keep up with changes that Oracle makes to its own products.

“With Oracle you never know what they’re going to do, and with a product like Toad it’s important to stay lockstep with that,” he said.

During a conference call Monday, Dell and Quest officials talked mostly about other Quest software such as identity and access management, performance monitoring and Windows Server management. John Swainson, president of Dell Software, did say that Quest’s database management tools are a “good portfolio of assets that have strong cash flows.”

Following a reporter’s question, executives said they planned on continuing to develop Toad but have aspirations to move the business into the area of “big data” as well.

“We’re not going to see applications back-ended exclusively by relational databases,” said Vincent  Smith, CEO of Quest. He later added, “There will be a lot of opportunity to create product that blends traditional relational systems with big data systems.”

According to Dell and Quest executives, Quest now has more than 100,000 customers and about 3,800 employees. Quest grew about 12% last year with revenues of about $857 million. Dell executives said they plan on closing the deal, estimated to be worth about $2.4 billion, in the third quarter.

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