Dell's downsized cloud ambitions might actually work out

Dell's abrupt switch away from a public cloud strategy has puzzled many people, but it's really the only choice

According to my friend Brandon Butler at Network World, "Dell has dramatically shifted its cloud computing strategy, canceling plans it once had to launch a public cloud service based on the OpenStack open source platform, and discontinuing an EMC VMware-based public cloud it already has on the market."

What is Dell going to do now? Give up on computing and move to agriculture? Go back to building computers in dorm rooms? Nope. The company will focus more on private clouds -- OpenStack-flavored private clouds, to be exact.

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Dell also said it has a new "partner ecosystem," with just three providers now. These partnerships will connect those partner public cloud services to Dell customers' private clouds. Also, Dell will sell the technology it just purchased from the cloud management/governance company Enstratius. In addition, it will sell more Boomi, the integration-on-demand provider it purchased a few years ago.

Beyond the tools it acquired and has partnered with, Dell has core enterprise relationships to bring to the table -- and these could make all the difference.

Still, the plain fact is Dell is late to public cloud computing. It has figured that it can't outspend the likes of Hewlett-Packard and IBM to build big, honking public OpenStack-compliant clouds. Instead, Dell is focusing focus on the next best thing: management, governance, data integration, and making them all work together. Dell doesn't have many choices at this stage of market maturation, so Dell's new strategy is the one I would have picked if I were running that company.

Still, it's not wholly clear where Dell wants to be to the rising cloud computing market. A server provider? A technology provider? A bit player? All of the above? Cashing in on the growth of cloud-flavored data centers, such as through providing server technology, is not a bad thing, nor is providing critical management and governance technology to a market that is in desperate need of such technology right now.

As an admirer of Dell in the past, manyh of its more recent moves have hurt my brain. However, I think I understand what Dell is trying to do. We'll see if the market gets it as well.

This article, "Dell's downsized cloud ambitions might actually work out," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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