With its design-it-yourself PCs in the 1980s and '90s, Dell liberated personal computing in its own image. Later, it developed its own servers, resold and serviced storage hardware from EMC, and made it all economically attractive for its marketing sweet spots-midrange and small businesses-to purchase and deploy.
Now, in 2011, the company Michael Dell built is briskly moving into new areas. It is winding down its reseller relationship with EMC, continuing its entry-level PowerVault product line, and developing new storage IP with new-generation acquisitions EqualLogic and Compellent. It also averages a new software company acquisition about once per quarter (i.e., KACE, Ocarina, Boomi and others).
As a result, it is moving into providing cloud systems and cloud services in a big way. Put it all together, and Dell is approaching the rarified air occupied by all-purpose IT companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle.
Dell made major cloud-related announcements at both VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas and Dreamforce in San Francisco. On Aug. 29 at VMworld, the company revealed that it will launch its first public cloud offering later this year as part of its partnership with VMware. Dell will host VMware's new vCloud public cloud systems in Dell data centers-one of which is already on line in Plano, Texas, and the other under construction in the Pacific Northwest. More data centers are being planned.
"This partnership also will build private clouds for customers," Mark Bilger, vice president and CTO of Dell Services, told eWEEK. "By extension between the two, Dell Services will be providing hyper-cloud solutions between the private cloud data centers and Dell's public cloud offering."
So Dell and VMware are connecting a lot of dots: customers to the cloud, data centers to data centers, and data centers to outside public cloud services. There is no question that this is a full cloud-service offering with many options for customers to consider. This will be a multi-tenant environment for running virtual systems. It provides access to vCPUs, memory, storage networks, IP addresses, firewalls and catalog capabilities.
Bilger said Dell is one of the first providers authorized to provide VMware vCloud Datacenter Services for enterprise-class, secure, public, private and hybrid clouds. The services are aimed primarily at enterprises, hosting and outsourcing firms, system integrators and service providers.
DreamForce Announcement on SaaS Applications
On Aug. 30 at Salesforce.com's Dreamforce event, Dell and Salesforce announced that they are partnering to deliver a set of new software as a service (SaaS) applications under the brand name Dell Cloud Business Applications, starting with a CRM app that became available at the conference.
Dell is using its cloud integrator, Boomi, to introduce cloud applications (such as the new CRM) as painlessly as possible into customers' existing on-premise or cloud systems so they can continue to use their legacy IT for as long as they can.
Bilger said the cloud applications will use business-grade single sign-on and security.
"In fact, one of the highlights of these announcements is that Dell is adding to VMware its SecureWorks managed security services and securityware from Trend Micro as part of the base infrastructure as a service offering," Bilger said. "SecureWorks is a very sophisticated managed service-it's not an upsell, not an additional feature; it's part of our VMware vCloud offering."
Dell and Salesforce's Sales Cloud also will provide a menu of back-office applications, such as QuickBooks and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Functions such as automation of cash to a collections process and cross-application reporting are also on the menu.