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Utah-based LANDesk up for sale

SOUTH JORDAN — Remember the pre-laptop days, before the iPad and the BlackBerry, when personal computers hogged most of the space on your desk?

When information technology specialists walked from desk to desk and inserted disks the size of an adult male's hand into computers to install or update software?

Well, that was when LANDesk, a Utah-based company that develops and sells products for IT, was born.

The year was 1991. Intel Corp. acquired a spin-off from Provo-based Novell Inc. and named it LANDesk.

Since then, LANDesk's growth has mirrored the evolution of computing. In 2009, it had about $150 million in revenue and 750 employees, about half of whom are in South Jordan, with the rest in London and Beijing. The company's current owner, St. Louis-based Emerson Electric Co., has put LANDesk up for sale.

"We're looking at both potential buyers as well as well as taking it private as its own stand-alone entity," said Steve Daly, LANDesk's executive vice president and general manager.

If LANDesk were to be acquired by another company, it would most likely be a software company. If it were to become a stand-alone entity, it would be through financiers. Daly couldn't speak of any discussions that may be occurring with potential buyers or financiers.

Unless you work in IT, you probably won't recognize the products the company sells, such as LANDesk Management Suite, LANDesk Security Suite and LANDesk Process Manager.

Decades ago, when there were mainframe computers on raised floors that took up large parts of entire rooms, IT revolved around the mainframe. Then there were personal computers, and now it's mobile devices. LANDesk has changed its products to accommodate IT, Daly said, through constant talking to and observing of customers.

"We've gotten away from this idea of centralized IT," said Robert Naegle, vice president of marketing. "So what IT's had to do is figure out, 'How do I control all this computing power that's not in my office but in potentially multiple sites around the globe?' "

The company expects growth to continue. Today, there are 500 million corporate desktops and laptops in the world. By 2020, there will be 50 billion computers, laptops, netbooks and other Internet devices.

In fact, LANDesk has 50 open positions in sales, software development and marketing, Naegle said.

"This will be the headquarters for LANDesk going forward," Daly said, referring to Utah. Other nearby companies, like Novell, Oracle, Altiris Inc. and Microsoft, provide similar IT services and a local talent pool for the company.

LANDesk's history has been full of change. Its headquarters moved from Provo to American Fork to Riverton to South Jordan. After Intel, it was a stand-alone company in 2002. In 2006, Avocent Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., purchased LANDesk. And in December, Emerson Electric purchased Avocent, and shortly after announced it was selling LANDesk.

"They're running us as a separate business," Daly said. "They're funding us as a separate business."

e-mail: lhancock@desnews.com TWITTER: laurahancock