Dell Unveils Partner Program for Public Clouds

Dell’s initiative will rely on third-party technologies and will replace the company’s in-house, OpenStack-based IaaS strategy.

Dell is changing its strategy regarding public clouds, opting for a partner program rather than continuing efforts around its OpenStack cloud initiative that was based on VMware technology.

Dell officials on May 20 announced the company’s Cloud Partner Program, with the initial partners in North America being Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag. In the program, Dell will be the single-source supplier of public cloud technologies, initially from the three partners. The multi-tenant public cloud that Dell currently runs will be discontinued in favor of offers through the Cloud Partner Program.

The move not only will get Dell out of having to directly compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services, but company officials said it also will give its customers a wider range of options in terms of technology, vendors and pricing. Dell can offer a central point for integration and control, they said.

“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,” Nnamdi Orakwue, vice president of Dell Cloud, said in a statement. “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.”

Dell officials for the past couple of years have talked about launching an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering based on the OpenStack open-source cloud computing platform. In 2011, Dell announced a public cloud partnership with VMware, where Dell would host VMware’s vCloud platform in Dell data centers.

Now those efforts are being replaced by the partner program, where customers will get a range of technology choices that best suit their needs, the officials said.

A key to the program will be the multi-cloud management platform that Dell inherited earlier this month when it bought Enstratius. The technology enables organizations to manage the cloud platforms from a range of public and cloud providers—including Dell—and in single- and multi-cloud environments. According to Dell, the Entratius technology supports more than 20 public and private cloud platforms, including OpenStack, VMware, Rackspace and Microsoft’s Windows Azure.

Adding new clouds into the mix is relatively easy, according to Dell officials.

Dell announced the deal May 6, and comments from officials seemed to indicate a change in direction in the company’s cloud strategy.

"As enterprises increase their use of public, private and hybrid clouds, the need for controls, security, governance and automation becomes more critical," Tom Kendra, vice president and general manager for systems management at Dell Software, said in a statement at the time. "Dell, together with Enstratius, is uniquely positioned to deliver differentiated, complete cloud-management solutions to enterprise customers, large and small, empowering them with the efficiency and flexibility in the allocation and use of resources."