Dell dumps its public cloud offerings

It will offer public cloud services through partners rather than its own public cloud

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Dell has become one of the first high profile companies to dump its public cloud ambitions, announcing today that it will no longer invest in its OpenStack and VMware-based cloud services.

Network World’s Brandon Butler just last week suggested Dell might discontinue its OpenStack cloud and now Dell has essentially confirmed it.

The company is being a bit cagey and hasn't answered my direct questions about whether it is killing off its OpenStack and VMware-based cloud services, but it sure sounds like it. In a press release, it said: "Sales of Dell’s current in-house multi-tenant public cloud IaaS will be discontinued in the U.S. in favor of best-in-class partner offerings."

Instead of offering its own public cloud, Dell will sell through partners. Initial partners include Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag.

Curiously, it appears that none of those platforms is built on OpenStack. ZeroLag is based on VMware’s technology and Joyent’s cloud is proprietary. ScaleMatrix, whom I hadn't heard of, mentions OpenStack on its web site but doesn’t appear to have built a cloud service on the technology. I've asked for more details though in case I'm wrong about ScaleMatrix. The Dell spokeswoman said the company planned to continue offering OpenStack public cloud services through its partners.

Update: ScaleMatrix offers "OpenStack hosting," which sounds to me like a sort of private OpenStack cloud that ScaleMatrix will host for customers. Not exactly a public cloud, a la AWS.

Dell also still plans to offer private cloud products and services, based on OpenStack.

“One point I want to emphasize is that Dell continues to invest and contribute to the OpenStack community and will continue to offer and expand Dell OpenStack-Powered Cloud Solution for private cloud,” a Dell spokeswoman said via email.

Dell has had a tough time getting its public cloud services off the ground. Late last year, it said it had delayed the launch of its OpenStack cloud for another year. It said it was waiting for the platform to mature.

Today’s announcement is a bit of a blow to the OpenStack community. I’ve asked many executives about whether there are too many OpenStack projects in the works. With Amazon Web Services continuing to command such a large chunk of the public cloud market, there’s little room for the host of other providers to compete. While the public cloud market will continue to grow rapidly and AWS surely will struggle to maintain its dominance, some companies just won’t be able to afford to build the kind of public cloud platform that can compete. Dell, with its well publicized financial struggles, may have decided that this was one area it couldn’t afford to try to compete.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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