Dell launches into cloud brokerage market with Cloud Marketplace

Since Dell decided to pull out of the public cloud market two years ago, it has refocused on selling services from partners, continuing that strategy with the launch of Dell Cloud Marketplace.

Dell may traditionally be known as a hardware company, but it has been bulking up its position in the software space, too.

In an aim for a further push forward in its cloud services portfolio, the PC giant has announced at Dell World 2014 its entry into the cloud brokerage market with the official launch of the Dell Cloud Marketplace public beta program. It will be an online service and platform that will allow customers to access, purchase, procure, and bill cloud services from a single point.

Since the beginning of June 30, Dell has been rolling out a multi-phased beta program in the US for its cloud marketplace.

James Thomason, Dell Cloud Marketplace CTO, told ZDNet that the idea behind the cloud marketplace is to address the pain points that IT is currently facing when it comes to the governance of cloud consumption within businesses.

"We think today, over 90 percent of cloud services that are in use are not officially sanctioned by IT, and IT has no visibility into them," he said. "They're unable to forecast their budget, they spend a lot of their time charging back random people's credit card to IT budgets, and they don't have governance, so they can't guarantee all employee access to company systems and information."

Dell has initially partnered with Amazon, Google, Joyent, Docker, Delphix, and Pertino to create the multi-cloud ecosystem, but Thomason assured that more companies will be announced in coming weeks.

Rick Caccia, Delphix vice president marketing, said the partnership is an alternative for businesses who are after flexibility rather than be locked into a single cloud. 

"While we may talk about the cloud as a single entity, for most customers the cloud is actually an aggregation of multiple cloud services. Moving enterprise data and applications out of the datacentre and into or across these cloud providers is a challenge," he said.

"Delphix provides solutions for migrating and managing data across clouds and Dell provides solutions for migrating and managing overall IT operations across clouds. We believe the combination provides real value to our customers."

Thomason added that the cloud brokerage platform is focused on infrastructure as a service, given the strengths of its partners.

For example, Thomason outlined that Dell believes Docker and containerisation enables better reporting between different infrastructure platforms; Pertino, a multi-cloud VPC and VPN solution, will give customers instant access and the ability to provision multi-cloud VPC, which he said has been traditionally been very complex; and Delphix can help businesses focus on data migration and the replication of databases between infrastructures.

"As you can see, they're all infrastructure centric, even though they're SaaS based," he said.

The cloud marketplace is built on the capabilities of Dell's cloud manager, which were previously capabilities owned by Enstratius until the PC maker acquired it last year.

As for whether Dell is looking to acquire more businesses to push its cloud strategy, Thomason said, "Yes, we'll continue to make investments as we see fit. It doesn't necessarily mean it's our sole strategy for cloud, because obviously inside the cloud marketplace it's an internal effort."

Other acquisitions that Dell has made in the past include Gale Technologies , Wyse, and Boomi. Thomason believes that these acquisitions have helped the company build a "very healthy" software business, particularly around servicing organisations in the healthcare and federal government sectors, and said its Cloud Marketplace will be complementary to what the company has created so far.

"This is a much more transactional model, where we're hoping to leverage our position in the market as a truly neutral third party and trusted advisor where a lot of people requiring cloud services today."

Thomason added that Dell's decision to pull out of the public cloud space turned out to be very "strategic and fortuitous". Initially, Dell entered into the public cloud market with a partnership with VMware, but after two years decided to spike that relationship , and strategically move towards selling services from partners.

"Everyone else in this space is either trying to re-create their history or trying to lock you into their cloud portfolio, and that's not the case with Dell, which is a huge strategic advantage for us," he said.

Aimee Chanthadavong travelled as a guest of Dell to Dell World 2014.

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