Dell has made a serious about turn with regard to its public cloud strategy, opting to sell its services through a number of partners rather than stay involved with the OpenStack cloud initiative based on VMWare technology. In an announcement yesterday the company unveiled its new Cloud Partner Program with initial partners including US firms ScaleMatrix, ZeroLag and Joyent.
The company hasn’t definitively said that its going to kill off its OpenStack and VMWare-based cloud services, but today’s developments would suggest that will be the case. In its press release, Dell states that, “sales of Dell’s current in-house multi-tenant public cloud IaaS will be discontinued in favor of its best-in-class partner offerings.”
Interestingly, one of the most curious things about this move, according to IT World, is that none of Dell’s new parthers operate OpenStack clouds. Joyent offers a proprietary cloud, ZeroLag users VMWare, and ScaleMatrix offers OpenStack hosting, which is different from a public cloud. Nevertheless, Dell’s spokesperson insists that it will continue to offer OpenStack public cloud services via its partners, though how it will do so remains unclear.
More Options & Freedom From Lock-In
By switching to a partner program, Dell will be able to avoid going head-to-head with giants like Amazon Web Services. In addition, its customers will also be given a wider range of options in terms of vendors, pricing and technology, said the company. Dell will also be able to offer a central point for control and integration, it added.
Nnamdi Orakwue, in a prepared statement, explained:
“Many Dell customers plan to expand their use of public cloud, but in order to truly reap the benefits, they want a choice of providers, flexibility and interoperability across platforms and models, the ability to compare cloud economics and workload performance, and a cohesive way to manage all of it.”
“The partner approach offers increased value to Dell’s customers, channel partners and shareholders, as part of our comprehensive cloud strategy to deliver market-leading, end-to-end cloud solutions.”
As well as giving its customers more options and flexibility, they’ll also be guaranteed “freedom from lock-in”, insisted Dell.
In part, this will be aided by Dell’s recent acquisition of Enstratius, which offers a platform specializing in the management of multiple cloud environments. By pairing Enstratius with its Global Service Delivery Partners, Dell’s customers will have the option of using cloud services from an array of Dell-certified partners, allowing for easy migration of workloads between each cloud, added the company.
Admission of Failure?
In spite of these proclaimed advantages, Dell’s move appears to be an admission that it’s having a hard time in getting its public cloud offerings off the ground. As The Register’s Jack Clark notes, the company appears to be in a somewhat delicate position with regards to cloud computing, as its sells tons of server hardware to cloud service providers through its Dell Data Solutions unit. The worry is that its hardware customers might do their shopping elsewhere if Dell insists on running its own public cloud.
Henceforth, Dells new strategy appears to be one that avoids competing with its customers, as Wikbon co-founder David Floyer points out on NewsDesk:
Another reason for Dell’s switch is that its public cloud offering still seems to lack a value proposition, as there’s no real advantage in consuming cloud services from an OEM instead of big service providers like Amazon, Google, Rackspace or Microsoft. In addition, neither of OpenStack’s two main public clouds are doing that well anyway – HP remains in beta and we haven’t heard hide nor hare of it for months, while Rackspace is struggling to grow its business compared to rivals like Amazon.