For a little while there, it looked as if Dell would join Google, Amazon, and other tech giants as a public Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider.
That would be in keeping with Dell’s current strategy, which is centered on a push into software and services as a way to supplement its anemic PC-manufacturing business.
But now Dell is discontinuing its “current in-house multi-tenant public cloud IaaS,” according to a company press release, in favor of supporting “best-in-class partner offerings.” Those partners include Joyent, ScaleMatrix, and ZeroLag, all of which come with their own cloud-infrastructure and IaaS features.
The press release was rather circumspect about Dell’s reasons for terminating its IaaS plans. TechCrunch, quoting an unnamed source “close to the matter,” said that Dell had sent layoff notices to more than 300 people associated with the initiative. The publication also hinted at a reason for the shutdown: “Internal forces at Dell and the pressures of the company going private have caused company executives to rethink the public cloud route.”
That’s not to say Dell is out of the cloud business; indeed, given the broader trends within the tech industry, any company that refuses to offer cloud-based products risks appearing obsolete (just ask Oracle about that one). But starting up any sort of public cloud infrastructure requires considerable investment, and Dell may lack the internal drive and resources to make such a thing happen at this time.
Dell recently acquired Enstratius, a cloud-software and consulting company, for an undisclosed sum. The newly purchased company offers tools for cloud-platform governance—i.e., the access controls, key management and encryption, as well as auditing issues—in addition to application automation. How Dell will deploy those assets remains to be seen, but it faces stiff competition in the segment from IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and other companies with sizable cloud-services offerings.
Despite the demise of its public cloud, Dell will continue to build out its private-cloud offerings. Dubbed Dell Cloud Dedicated Service, this private-cloud initiative will be based on the open-source OpenStack, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform developed by Rackspace and NASA that launched in 2010.
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