AUSTIN, Texas—Before coming to Dell two years ago, Don Ferguson over the three previous decades held high-profile positions with such top-tier tech vendors as CA, Microsoft and IBM, including playing a key role in the development of WebSphere for Big Blue.
Speaking to a small group of journalists at the Dell World 2014 show here Nov. 5, Ferguson said that he has rarely been as proud of anything he’s done as he is with the development of Dell’s Cloud Marketplace, a cloud brokerage initiative in which Dell offers IT managers and developers a single place on its Website to buy, use, manage and bill for services from such public clouds as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Joyent cloud services.
When he spoke with his development team in a conference call last week about the Cloud Marketplace going into public beta, Ferguson said he got emotional.
“I teared up a bit,” he said.
It’s an example of how technology can be used to solve problems in the industry, and was developed in close conjunction with the 50 or so customers the participated in the private beta, Ferguson said. Now it’s ready for public beta, and Dell developers will incorporate the feedback they get into the version that becomes generally available. Dell wants to “kind of get it out there and see what people are looking for,” Ferguson said.
Dell’s cloud brokerage effort comes as businesses continue to look to public clouds to help with efficiencies and to drive down operating and capital expenses. According to the newly released Dell Global Technology Adoption Index, 97 percent of survey respondents at midsize organizations said they are using or plan to use cloud computing, according to Dell officials. Cloud continues to be a priority and 58 percent said they look to an IT vendor to partner with to help them with their cloud ambitions, CEO Michael Dell said during a press conference here Nov. 4.
However, a key issue for businesses as they embrace the cloud is the different—and at times conflicting—desires of developers (who want immediate access to cloud services and the ability to get them by themselves) and IT managers (who want greater governance, visibility and integration across public, private and hybrid clouds), James Thomason, CTO of the Dell Cloud Marketplace, told eWEEK.
“If I’m a CTO and employees are getting into the cloud on their own, I have no visibility and no control,” Thomason said.
The Dell Cloud Marketplace gives developers the self-service capabilities they want, while giving IT managers a single console through which to manage, view and bill the cloud services from multiple service providers. Those features are the key value that Dell is adding to the equation. Businesses could always go directly to Amazon, Google or other cloud providers for their services, but Dell is adding that software layer that adds management, security and governance capabilities. The site is designed with an easy-to-navigate user interface, according to Nnamdi Orakwue, vice president of software strategy, operations and cloud at Dell.
Dell Looks to Become a Cloud Brokerage
Dell’s tools enable organizations to compare what the cloud providers offer to ensure they find the best services for their workloads, streamline the use of those services, and to manage all the services from multiple and hybrid clouds from a single site. The marketplace becomes a one-stop show for cloud services and a single point of billing, and Dell’s technology lets businesses more easily migrate and deploy cloud services, officials said.
Dell initially is focusing on infrastructure as a service for the marketplace, which is based on technology the company inherited when it bought Enstratius in 2013, one in a series of acquisitions Dell has made over the past several years to build up its software capabilities. Company officials also said Dell will work with partners to build out the capabilities of the Cloud Marketplace, unveiling alliances with Delphix, Docker and Pertino. Sometime next year, those vendors will offer solutions through the Cloud Marketplace that customers can subscribe to for such tasks as data migration and greater management across public and hybrid clouds, more easily build, ship and run distributed applications, and automatically connect multiple cloud resources and users, the company said.
Dell also is leveraging its own software—via Foglight APM SaaS Edition—to give developers the tools they need to improve application performance in the cloud.
While the public beta will only include a handful of public clouds, Dell’s Ferguson said the goal is to include others as the marketplace matures. He noted that while Microsoft’s Azure is not on the list, Dell is working with the software giant on cloud initiatives. Most recently, Dell has begun to sell the Microsoft Cloud Platform System, a prevalidated, Azure-compatible cloud platform announced last month.