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Dell announced today that it will acquire network security firm SecureWorks. This is another acquisition aimed at preventing its smaller and mid-sized business customers from migrating to public cloud providers like Amazon.

SecureWorks gives users with a number of tools to help manage security threats and control access to local networks. The service includes email encryption, and SecureWorks provides a degree of consulting for its customers. The entire security suite is deployed on in-house servers.

Most of Dell’s business is in providing companies with private, in-house cloud servers that run multiple computers. Dell has said before that it doesn’t feel threatened by the public cloud — a bunch of services that offload heavy-duty computing to remote servers and stream the results through the Internet. Dell brought in around $1.8 billion last quarter off sales of its servers. Dell’s Data Center Solutions is the third-largest distributor of servers using chips from Intel and AMD.

But companies buying Dell’s servers have to bear the costs of keeping those private cloud servers up and running. That isn’t the case with public cloud servers from companies like Amazon and Rackspace. Dell’s strategy lately has been to reduce those upkeep headaches and keep companies interested in the private cloud. It recently acquired Compellent, which provides some software to help companies store and access their data more efficiently on private cloud servers, as part of that strategy.

Dell’s largest customers, like OnLive and Microsoft, are probably going to stick with the private cloud because it is faster. Dell still needs to bring in some new incentives for smaller and mid-sized businesses that are flocking to public cloud services because they are typically cheaper. One way to do that is to draw attention to the notion that public cloud services aren’t as secure as private servers because the information has to be transmitted across the Internet.

This is the second big acquisition in a few months for Dell. SecureWorks raked in about $120 million in revenue last year and has around 1,500 customers running its software. The financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it probably wasn’t cheap with that kind of revenue.

Security firms are another big acquisition target. SecureWorks acquired VeriSign and DNS Limited, other security providers, last year. Intel also dropped $7.7 billion to buy McAfee, one of the largest providers of computer security software, last year.

Atlanta, Ga.-based SecureWorks was founded in 1999 and has around 700 employees. It has raised $31.5 million in funding.

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