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Dell Expands Cloud Computing and Services Strategy

By Andy Patrizio (Send Email)
Posted Mar 25, 2010


SAN FRANCISCO -- Dell continues to broaden its cloud computing offerings, taking the wraps off a series of turnkey cloud solutions based on the new Intel Xeon 5600 architecture Wednesday. The computer maker also continued a trend of promoting more comprehensive solutions instead of simply products. New servers designed for cloud computing environments and an expanding focus on services show Dell is following the same model as IBM and HP.

In addition to the "Solutions for the Virtual Era" event here in the financial district, the company also laid out its plans in a blog post by Barton George, Dell's cloud evangelist (NASDAQ: DELL).

Dell's new offerings reflect a new emphasis on services and solutions as opposed to being a hardware provider and letting IBM do the more lucrative services work. Dell acquired Perot Systems last year and a second services company, KACE, earlier this year, greatly enhancing its services capabilities, and this is the first step in it.

Dell highlighted two strategies for moving to the cloud; the revolutionary road, for green field deployments and the evolutionary road, which involves using existing systems. For new deployments, there is the Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications, a turnkey private platform-as-a-service jointly developed with cloud vendor Joyent, to offer pre-tested, pre-assembled and fully-supported hardware, software and services, all sold and supported by Dell.

For those with an existing system, there is the Cloud Partner Program featuring what Dell said is easy to buy and deploy cloud solutions and blueprints optimized for and validated on Dell platforms. Dell already has relationships with VMware and Microsoft to provider virtualization services, now it adds Aster Data for Web analytics, Canonical for an open source Infrastructure as a Service private cloud and Greenplum for self-service data warehousing.

Computing Computing Made Simple and Scalable

All of this is in keeping with Dell's "simplifying IT" strategy. "Efficiency is not just from products but an application platform that is simple and scalable and apps are aware they will be deployed on scale-out hardware. That is the key differentiator in what we are talking about today," said Forrest Norrod, vice president and general manager of server platforms at Dell during his presentation.

Norrod said customers want to migrate their legacy application investments forward and they want efficiency out of those assets. At the same time, companies are seeing new workloads emerging that need new apps, such as the use of smartphones and distributed client apps.

As such, Dell is talking software, something the company has rarely done in the past. It's offering a full-out "bottom's-up solution," as Norrod called it, with a platform for deploying Web apps, written in PHP and Python or using Ruby on Rails and running Apache, MySQL, Rails and Java. There will also be a suite of cloud professional services to help customers assess, deploy, design and manage dedicated solutions.

Analyst Tom Kurchary said this was long overdue from Dell.

"The services organization acquisition is critical to them and they are demonstrating their intention to dramatically increase the level of services they are providing, and in recognizing not all is infrastructure. To become the trusted provider of infrastructure, they have to address the apps base," Kuchavy, president of Beyond IT, told InternetNews.com

Dell Still Hardware News

Of course Dell remains very much a major hardware provider and the company had some news at the event. Dell said there would be a broad refresh of the PowerEdge server line next week, when Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) introduces its Nehalem-EX line of high-end Xeon processors.

"We're really hitting an inflection point in power and performance with Intel-based offerings that we've never seen before," said Norrod.

In addition, Dell announced a new line of hyperscale PowerEdge C servers intended for cloud systems and high-performance computing, both of which are performance intensive. The PowerEdge C1100 is a high-memory, power-efficient, cluster-optimized compute node server; the C2100 is a high performance data analytics, cloud computing platform and cloud storage server; and the C6100 is a four-node cloud- and cluster-optimized, shared infrastructure server.

In addition to the news, Dell also announced an expansion of its storage partnership with EMC and a new object storage system.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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