February 20, 2013, 10:33 AM — In business, you go where your customers are. If the kids want to listen to that rock and roll music, well, you put it on the jukebox. If the enterprise caretakers want to buy something from a cloud, then you bundle up your server boxes and call them a cloud. That's what Dell is doing. If time is too short to buy your Dell machines with a purchase order and take delivery, you can call up the company and it will start them up in its data center.
Dell's new cloud has a distinctly Dell flavor that's apparent from the beginning. The company has always been very close to Microsoft, and now it's even closer after the leveraged buyout. While other clouds charge a bit more for a Microsoft license, you get one to Windows Server 2008 R2 as part of the whole bundle. The Dell Cloud portal where you control your machines insists that you log in via Internet Explorer or Firefox. Chrome isn't even on the list.
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The sales process is also very Dell. You can buy a machine by the hour, but the first options you see ask you to reserve a chunk of hardware for a month -- much as you might if you were leasing a real slab of silicon. Dell's sales team is ready to help at any time. A "small" machine comes with one virtual CPU, 2GB of RAM, and 100GB of storage for a going rate of $125 a month, averaging about 17.5 cents an hour.