Quest Software acquires Erwin to advance its data ops agenda
January 5, 2021
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Quest Software revealed it has acquired Erwin to expand its reach into the emerging data ops realm. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Erwin is a longtime provider of the data modeling and metadata management tools at the core of many efforts to manage data as a business asset. That data is then shared across multiple applications and processes in a way that makes it simpler for everything from business intelligence (BI) applications to AI platforms to consistently consume multiple types of big data.

That shift in how data is managed is giving rise to a more automated approach to managing data at scale, known as data ops, within enterprise IT organizations. This is especially true for companies committed to monetizing the data they collect, typically in the context of a larger digital business transformation initiative.

Erwin will become part of the information systems and management (ISM) business unit Quest Software created in 2020. Heath Thompson, president and general manager for the ISM business unit at Quest Software, told VentureBeat this arm of the company is focusing on building out a suite of data intelligence tools encompassing everything from the Erwin tools to existing offerings for managing databases and protecting data.

Other elements of the ISM portfolio include endpoint management tools that trace their lineage back to Kace, which Dell acquired in 2010. Dell then acquired SonicWall in 2012 and merged with Quest Software, only to spin both companies out again in 2016.

Last year, a new management team was installed to run Quest Software under the leadership of CEO Patrick Nichols. The company, owned privately by the investment firm Francisco Partners, is now organized around multiple business units with their own general managers.

The overall strategy is to focus the ISM group on a data intelligence opportunity that first emerged with the rise of compliance requirements such as the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) mandated by the European Union, Thompson said.

Once organizations were required to govern data more consistently, Thompson said they also began attempting to manage data in a more holistic way. That shift gave rise to digital business transformation initiatives now being accelerated in the wake of the pandemic-driven economic downturn, he added.

The degree to which any organization succeeds will depend on how well they manage data, Thompson contends, noting that everybody talks about becoming a software company, but most organizations today are really data companies that either create data or consume it. “They all live or die by it,” he said.

Many organizations have already begun hiring data architects who in many cases report to chief data officers focused on making data as accessible to business users as possible, Thompson noted. He said the days of organizations relying mainly on a database administrator (DBA) to manage often conflicting sets of data residing in multiple applications are now all but over.

Of course, competition among vendors aiming to help organizations process data that might be the “new oil” is already fierce. Most enterprise IT organizations are eventually going to prefer a single set of data ops tools to eliminate workflow friction and ultimately reduce costs.

In the meantime, most enterprise IT organizations are clearly a long way from realizing their data ops ambitions. In fact, isolated silos of data are still the norm in most enterprises. Quest Software now faces the challenge of ensuring it’s on the shortlist of vendors that enterprise IT leaders evaluate as data ops best practices continue to evolve and mature.

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