Shrewdly, Dell is Betting on Multiple Winners in the Open Cloud
In a major move from Dell Computer last summer, the company announced that its public cloud ecosystem and strategy would be centered on partners Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag, and would emphasize recent acquisition Enstratius. To many observers, that seemed to represent a very major reversal of its plans to deliver public cloud services based on the open source OpenStack cloud platform, and we covered the hubbub surrounding the shift in this post.
As 2014 begins, though, it's becoming clear that Dell hasn't abandoned OpenStack and is in fact taking a very ecumenical approach toward open cloud computing platforms--working with multiple platforms. The company has a partnership with Eucalyptus Systems surrounding its cloud framework, and has an OpenStack partnership with Red Hat that promises to appeal to many enterprises. In essence, Dell is hedging its bets on the open cloud, rather than picking one winner.
Dell and Red Hat have recently announced that Dell will effectively become an OEM for Red Hat's Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, by selling systems starting early next year that run the platform. Dell is also joining the Red Hat OpenStack Cloud Infrastructure Partner Network as an Alliance Partner. As I've noted, with this partnership, the doors to the IT departments of countless big enterprises are going to swing open for Red Hat, and Dell will be very involved with OpenStack deployments in big business and government. Red Hat is also going to offer hese enterprises end-to-end training and support options, which it already has set to go. That takes the heat off of Dell to provide similar offerings.
Meanwhile, at December's Dell World conference, Dell officials announced that Eucalyptus Systems joined the Dell Technology Partner Program to provide a "cloud-in-a-box" product that will automatically put Eucalyptus’ Infrastructure-as-a-Service private cloud software on Dell systems. As Network World notes:
"According to [Eucalyptus CEO] Marten Mickos, the open source Eucalyptus platform is the only private cloud solution that is completely compatible with Amazon Web Services. (The companies are business partners, but Mickos wouldn’t comment on whether Amazon holds any ownership stake in Eucalyptus.) That means that you can move workloads back and forth between Eucalyptus and AWS as needed, and take advantage of any AWS innovations without having to change anything."
Also at the Dell conference, Michael Dell himself expounded on the cloud-in-a-box concept, making clear that he sees an opportunity for Dell to put open cloud solutions on Dell hardware. Dell is likely to continue to offer numerous open cloud platforms within this overarching strategy.
It looks like Dell's strategy of hedging its bets with open cloud platforms is a smart one. There is room in the cloud space for multiple popular platforms, and Dell has enough influence on enterprise IT departments to make way for many platforms in big deployments.