Dell, Rackspace Build OpenStack, Big Data Service Partnerships

Dell and Rackspace Hosting  made announcements today that make partners a key part of their OpenStack and big data market plays.

Dell’s announcement is the more far-reaching. The Dell Emerging Solutions Ecosystem is a partnership program designed to integrate hardware, software and services from Dell and its partners as it seeks to bolster its Dell Apache Hadoop Solution for big data and  Dell OpenStack-Powered Cloud Solution for private cloud deployment. Essentially, Dell is leveraging partner technologies to expand the scope of its OpenStack and Hadoop services.

“Program partners are carefully selected based on their ability to support unique customer needs in cloud and cluster computing,” Dell reports in its press release, and used this week’s OpenStack Conference as a platform to announce that Canonical and Mirantis have signed up to provide engineering and support services to Dell’s OpenStack solution customers. Similarly, enStratus is bringing its cloud management platform into the Dell public cloud ecosystem.

As of Dell World 2011, Dell was giving plenty of lip service to the idea that developers are the new kingmakers, especially in the cloud.. Aligning itself so publicly with outside cloud developers even as it makes open source a key part of its business model is simply a smart move as Dell looks to build a name for itself in the cloud space.

Rackspace’s OpenStack-based partner community may not be such a formalized initiative, but it’s still worth noting when big data marketplace operator and tools maker Infochimps brings its Apache Hadoop cluster deployment platform into the newly OpenStack-based portfolio of Rackspace cloud solutions. Customers can now use Infochimps’ Ironfan provisioning tool to spin up Hadoop clusters in the Rackspace cloud, either managing their big data infrastructure themselves or leaving it to Infochimps.

For a slightly different kind of partnership, network virtualization company Nicira announced that Rackspace is actually leveraging its own Network Virtualization Platform (NVP) in conjunction with OpenStack Quantum in order to deliver the new Rackspace Cloud Networking service. Short version: Nicira developed an NVP plug-in on top of the Quantum API to enable OpenStack customers to take advantage of Nicira’s brand of distributed virtualized network infrastructure.

These announcements represent one of the key advantages to enabling open source standards: It makes it much easier for developers to boost the overall value proposition of a platform. Dell and Rackspace both are enabling a whole new range of customer use-cases on their respective platforms, just by letting service providers and consultants play in their sandbox. And I suspect that given the OpenStack community’s convergence here in San Francisco this week, we’re only going to be hearing more stories along this vein.