A few weeks ago, I blogged about Dell's cloud strategy, or lack of one to be more specific, noting that most of the top vendors are coming out with heady mixes of hardware, software and services platforms for the data center.
Since then, Dell has made no secret of the fact that it intends to be a systems and technology provider to those wishing to offer cloud services, as well as to the general enterprise market, but it doesn't see cloud services as part of its portfolio anytime soon. I'll say again that I think this is a mistake, not because it won't turn a profit, but because it will relegate Dell to second-tier vendor status while the big money goes to IBM, HP and others who can offer themselves as full data center partners with a broad mix of systems and services.
But if this is the strategy that Dell is bent on pursuing, at least the company has seen fit to enter into a number of key partnerships that should bolster its ability to provide as close to a turn-key data center infrastructure as it can get.
Dell is already strong in the server department and storage, by virtue of its ties with EMC and others. Networking is another matter, however, so two key tie-ups in recent weeks could prove valuable to the company.
One is with Xsigo Systems, which specializes in I/O virtualization and related technologies that allow virtualized servers to access network resources without overloading the physical infrastructure. Dell soon will be bundling the Xsigo I/O Director with the PowerEdge server and storage platform, providing single-console management of multi-vendor I/O environments, among other benefits.
An even more crucial match-up, and a potentially more complicated one, is with Cisco. The companies have agreed to integrate the Nexus switch into the PowerEdge blades, which will significantly cut down on integration and cable hassles while boosting the pooling capabilities of unified fabrics. It's unclear, though, how this relationship will be affected if Cisco starts building its own servers as rumored.
Dell also isn't shy about branching into new, but largely unproven, areas-like desktop virtualization. Under an agreement with Novell, the new OptiPlex FX160 thin client device will come preloaded with SuSE Linux Enterprise Thin Client, bringing powerful image-creation tools to enable speedy creation and distribution of customized environments throughout a thin client infrastructure.
It all sounds very impressive, and there's no reason to think Dell doesn't have the chops to build a world-class data center infrastructure. But without a cloud component, it will always be second class.