September 13, 2012, 1:15 PM — Last week a curious announcement came from Dell: A tweet from one of the company's corporate Twitter accounts pointed to a PDF announcing a new public cloud storage service from the company.
Well, sort of. Dell announced an agreement to sell public cloud storage from Nirvanix, an infrastructure as a service company that's slowly building a notable resume, including its ongoing partnership with IBM to provide a cloud storage option for Big Blue.
For years there have been rumors about Dell's cloud strategy. Will it launch its own cloud to go up against Amazon Web Services, as HP has done? The flurry of acquisitions Dell has made during the past few years, combined with its enthusiastic support of OpenStack, had some in the industry waiting for a big news announcement from Dell of a public cloud offering. Instead, it announced through Twitter a new option for Dell customers to access Nirvanix's cloud. "The announcement in some ways raises more questions than it answers," says Terri McClure, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.
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Dell has a lot of irons in the fire, says Andrew Reichman, a Forrester storage analyst. It sells traditional hardware storage options for use in the data center, such as its PowerVault direct attached and network attached appliances. Then there is the company's cloud, in which customers can rent servers from Dell in a multi-tenant (public cloud) or dedicated server variety (private cloud). Through other reseller programs Dell offers public cloud storage software from Caringo, or it will manage applications in the cloud. Dell's approach, says 451 Research Group analyst Carl Brooks, is to "throw everything up against the wall and see what sticks."