Dell Pushes Clouds With Red Hat, Microsoft, and Google
Like all IT equipment suppliers, Dell had aspirations of building its own public cloud. But unlike its peers, Dell decided earlier this year to mothball its public cloud and focus on helping other public clouds build and sell their infrastructure services while at the same time helping enterprises build their own private clouds.
Time will tell if Dell's strategy is right or not, but one thing is for certain. Those who think they can take on Google, Microsoft, and Amazon in the public cloud market had best be prepared to make billions of dollars a year in investments in hardware and systems software. That is the ante to be in this game, and those who cannot do so will try to carve out their niches, as Rackspace Hosting is attempting to do with high-performance server slices that sell at a premium to Amazon's EC2. Dell is counting on its engineering expertise for hyperscale servers and modular datacenters to be a competitive advantage. Hewlett-Packard and IBM, who are Dell's main rivals in the systems business, are still keen on peddling public cloud services and they are also trying to get public cloud operators to buy their stuff. The conflict of interest is obvious, but such dichotomies always exist in the IT market. They don't matter so long as you are making money.
At the DellWorld customer and partner event in Austin, Texas this week, Dell rolled out a bunch of alliances with key cloud players.
The first and perhaps most important deal is one that Dell has struck with Red Hat. Under that agreement, Dell is tapping the Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, the commercial-grade variant of OpenStack from Red Hat, as its preferred implementation of that cloud controller program. Dell is starting up an OpenStack practice inside of its Dell Services organization and is actually getting an OEM license from Red Hat for its OpenStack. This is the first time anyone has licensed the Red Hat OpenStack, and it probably will not be the last. Dell engineers will be working with Red Hat engineers to co-develop the next iteration of Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, too, which will be version 4 and which will combine the "Havana" release of OpenStack with Enterprise Linux 6.5 and the KVM hypervisor. Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform 4 has been in beta testing since early November. Dell will be pitching in to work on the OpenStack Networking (code-named "Neutron") and Telemetry (code-named "Ceilometer") features of the cloud controller, which are relatively new features. The main idea here is to make sure OpenStack runs well on Dell servers, storage, and switches. The joint Dell-Red Hat OpenStack will be available sometime next year. Dell has not provided pricing information on it yet.
On the hybrid cloud front, Dell will be peddling infrastructure and platform cloud services from Google, Microsoft, and CenturyLink as part of its Cloud Partner Program. With this initiative, Dell is offering to be a single point of sales and support contact for enterprise customers who want to have both private and public cloud capacity, and it is pitching its various cloud management tools, including the Enstratius tool that Dell acquired in May and rebranded Dell Cloud Manager.
Joyent, Peer1 Hosting, ScaleMatrix, and ZeroLag were already members of the Cloud Partner Program, which launched in May when Dell pulled the plug on its own Dell Cloud public cloud efforts.
In a related announcement, Dell has inked a four-year, worldwide deal with IT consultancy Accenture that will see the two work together to build hybrid clouds based on the Microsoft Windows Server and System Center software stack and its Azure cloud extensions. This deal will leverage some of the expertise that Accenture and Microsoft have attained building clouds through their own joint venture, which was founded in 2000 and which is called Avanade. That joint venture had already cooked up recipes for deploying private clouds combining Dell hardware and Microsoft software and now it will be extended to integrate Dell's SecureWorks security service and its Active System converged systems. Dell and Microsoft expect the first fruits of their labor to come to market in mid-2014 for customers in North America and to roll out around the globe in 2015.