Dell expects to launch its OpenStack-based public cloud near the end of 2013, in part because it's waiting for the OpenStack platform to mature. "It's not where it needs to be. That's a pretty widely held view," said Nnamdi Orakwue, vice president for Dell Cloud. "We don't want to rush it." Dell had initially hoped to launch its public cloud in 2012.
Companies like Dell that want to launch OpenStack public clouds face a bit of a devil's bargain. They can wait until the platform is ready, potentially losing customers to other cloud services in the meantime. Or they can develop on top of OpenStack to fill in the missing pieces.
Orakwue was critical of companies, of which he said HP is one, that take the second option. "Their timing was bad in my view," he said. "They jumped on this early, saw a lot of holes and did what any reasonable firm would do which is use their own IP to fill them. But what they created in the end doesn't look a lot like OpenStack." He called the code HP is using to run its cloud "dramatically forked." Dell expects to win some customers by staying as true to the main trunk of OpenStack as possible, he said. That will alleviate some lock-in fears that some potential customers worry about. Dell also hopes to win customers by offering stronger SLAs than the competition . "There will be real penalties if we don't execute against it," Orakwue said. He also hopes that existing customers that think Dell offers good support will turn to Dell for cloud services. But Dell has a larger strategy for its public cloud. "Dell is prioritizing the private cloud way more than the public," he said. By that he means that Dell is focusing on its customers' private cloud needs but knows that those customers will need bursts of capacity sometimes and when they do they'll be able to turn to Dell's public offering. Dell will join other large enterprise vendors like IBM and HP in launching OpenStack clouds. They'll all compete against Amazon Web Services, the current dominant market leader. Orakwue isn't too worried about being behind though. Right now, most cloud users are small to medium businesses and they are running discrete apps – app testing or disaster recovery. "But that's not what the battle is over," he said. The real bulk of cloud workloads will come when all sizes of businesses start running their primary infrastructure, including production workloads, databases and ERP apps, in the cloud. That hasn't happened yet, he said, but when it does, Dell hopes to be positioned to capture those users. Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that Oracle was among companies launching OpenStack clouds. The reference has been removed. Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.