Dell Sheds VMware, Pushes IaaS To Channel

It’s no secret that Dell is actively maturing its cloud presence. And like anything else that grows up, it’s taking a few more self-reliant steps toward independence.

After a two-year stint, the Round Rock, Tex.-based PC manufacturer is severing its ties with VMware as a public cloud infrastructure-as-a service provider, and is now looking to make a more noticeable dent in the market by distributing cloud IaaS services through its channel.

Specifically,  Dell announced this week that it planned to discontinue its IaaS vCloud Datacenter Service, while shuddering plans to  launch an OpenStack-based public cloud as well as a public storage as a service offering.

Instead, Dell will be leveraging its channel to flex its competitive muscle in the IaaS space. The hardware turned software and services firm said it planned to act as a single-source supplier, and offer customers a choice of vendors and technology that touts “freedom from lock-in to a single platform or pricing model” as well as “a central point of integration and control.”

“Many Dell customers plan to expand their use of public cloud, but in order to truly reap the benefits, they want a choice of providers, flexibility and interoperability across platforms and models, the ability to compare cloud economics and workload performance, and a cohesive way to manage all of it,” said Nnamdi Orakwue, vice president, Dell Cloud. “The partner approach offers increased value to Dell’s customers, channel partners and shareholders, as part of our comprehensive cloud strategy to deliver market-leading, end-to-end cloud solutions.”

When applicable, Dell will leverage U.S.-based partners for EMEA-based clouds, but plans to gain more ground in IaaS markets via a newly debuted Global Service Delivery Partner program. Out the gate, the new cloud partner program touts three new North American cloud provider partners:

Joyent: a high-performance cloud infrastructure-as-a-service provider geared toward real-time Web and mobile applications that also features compatibility with Dell’s recently acquired multi-cloud management solution Enstratius.

ScaleMetrix: a platform providing users with control over functionality and performance leveraging hardware, storage, security and niche distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation services.

ZeroLag: combines VMware powered on-demand cloud infrastructure with professional services and custom solutions.

Meanwhile, Dell’s reinvigorated channel focus around IaaS and other cloud services aligns with its ardent push over the last two years to shed its hardware image for a sleeker software and services look and feel, while leveraging its partners to serve as the catalyst for its transformation.

Over the last year, the once hardware-only company has raised its cloud and managed services profile with launches of managed SIEM,  incident response  and hosted e-mail, as well as a slew of threat services that include vulnerability management and Web scanning,  and various threat surveillance services.

That said, Dell is increasingly priming its channel to take on a bigger role around services distribution. Last month, the company celebrated its transformation by uniting its channel under a revamped PartnerDirect Program, a move that converged the entirety of its current and acquired programs and partners and re-aligned structure with corresponding end-to-end solutions. And with Dell’s recent acquisition of Enstratius under its belt, partners will be able to add plethora of cloud management tools to their tool belt.

As such, it’s likely not lost on Dell that it’s new investments in cloud management could potentially pave the way for customized and high-margin channel offerings around IaaS and could represent a sharp thorn in the side of nearest competitors IBM Corp. and Hewlett Packard Co.