Just one day after Dell announced its first infrastructure-as-a-service offering, the company is jumping deeper into the cloud. Dell will offer a family of hosted software applications for small and midsized businesses, through partnerships with Salesforce.com, Microsoft, Intuit, and others, the computer maker announced Tuesday.
The first service, Salesforce.com's CRM (customer relationship management) system, is available through Dell now, the company said. Next year Dell will offer hosted versions of Microsoft's Dynamics GP ERP (enterprise resource planning) software and Intuit's QuickBooks accounting software, as well as other services, it said.
Dell's pitch is that it will tie the services together on the back-end using its recently acquired Boomi integration software, so that a customer's CRM software can talk to its accounting software, for example. It says it will integrate both cloud and on-premise applications. That's something smaller businesses, without large IT departments, may not want to do themselves.
Dell will also offer, by the middle of next year, a hosted analytics service that works across all its hosted applications, providing managers with a "unified view" of their business through a "cross-platform dashboard," Dell said in a statement.
The services are a smart move for Dell, said industry analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. They allow the company to draw on its large base of small and midsized business customers to build a software hosting business.
"A lot of SMBs aren't going to want to do the integration of all these different applications in the cloud, so Dell is putting together a package that does it for them," Wang said.
The services, called the Dell Cloud Business Applications, are being announced in conjunction with Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. They will be Dell-branded and delivered with "business grade single sign-on and security," Dell said.
Some questions remain, such as how quickly next year Dell will roll out additional services. Executives at an event for press and analysts in San Francisco on Tuesday declined to give further details about timing. And they wouldn't say whose software Dell will use for the analytics service, or how much that service will cost when it launches next year.
Dell is charging standard list prices for the Salesforce.com and Boomi services, said Steve Felice, president of Dell's consumer and SMB businesses. A package including five Salesforce.com seats and a Boomi license to integrate two applications costs $565 per month, according to Dell's Web site. Implementation services for Salesforce.com start at $5,000.
Dell isn't hosting the Salesforce applications itself; they will remain in one of Salesforce's own data centers, said Paulette Altmaier, a vice president with Dell's "solutions" group. Dell will pull the customer's Salesforce into one of its own data centers, where it will host the analytics and integration services, she said.
Other applications may be hosted in Dell's own data center, depending on which partners it chooses, she said.