Is Dell targeting Quest Software, owner of PacketTrap MSP and PacketTrap PSA, for a potential buyout? A potential Dell-Quest Software deal remained in negotiations over the holiday weekend, sources told Reuters. If Dell acquires Quest Software, what does that mean for the PacketTrap MSP and PacketTrap PSA software platforms? Here are some thoughts for managed services providers (MSPs).

First, some caveats. The Dell-Quest Software deal may not occur. Sources tell MSPmentor the on-again/off-again discussions have run hot and cold over the past few days, with Dell's weak quarterly results triggering distractions a few days ago.

It sounds like Quest Software has been soliciting bids from multiple potential suitors, so there's a chance additional tech companies could be interested in buying Quest Software. I don't know if Dell and Quest Software have signed an M&A binder that essentially prevents Quest Software from negotiating with additional suitors at the moment.

In an email to MSPmentor on May 25, a Quest Software spokeswoman said the company had no comment about the M&A speculation.

Potential Implications for MSPs

If Dell acquires Quest Software, it will certainly trigger questions from MSPs running PacketTrap MSP and PacketTrap PSA, two MSP-oriented platforms within Quest Software's portfolio.

Compared to the overall Quest Software business ($767 million in revenues for 2010), I believe the PacketTrap MSP and PSA revenue streams are relatively small. I think Dell is more interested in Quest Software's larger IT management, data management, virtualization and systems management software businesses.

Still, the PacketTrap business has been expanding at a nice pace. The software platform originally focused on RMM (remote monitoring and management) capabilities. But more recently, Quest Software and PacketTrap in February 2012 acquired their way into the PSA (professional services automation) market, purchasing BlueFolder.

If Dell acquires Quest Software (and by association PacketTrap), some angst could emerge among PacketTrap's MSPs. Dell does not have a good track record in the MSP software market, where purchases like Silverback Technologies never really clicked with MSPs post-acquisition.

Also, some MSPs have expressed concern about Dell's recent SonicWall acquisition. SonicWall's partner program includes recurring revenue opportunities for MSPs. And Dell has vowed to continue rewarding SonicWall partners.

Nevertheless, some SonicWall MSPs fear Dell's direct sales heritage, and some of those partners are now seeking SonicWall market alternatives. I wonder if that trend would repeat itself within a portion of the PacketTrap partner base if Dell acquires Quest Software and PacketTrap.

My advice: Avoid the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). Sit tight and wait for the facts to unfold. If a Dell-Quest Software deal is going to happen I suspect the facts will surface this week. And if a potential deal surfaces, PacketTrap's management team will certainly be in touch with its MSP partners with updates and perspectives.