Dell announces Dell Beta Cloud Marketplace, still defining channel role

Dell's Cloud Marketplace puts it in a broker role with big cloud vendor partners, but while they say there will be a strong channel partner role, its specifics are still being defined.


John Swainson, President of Dell Software

AUSTIN – Dell has moved away from its earlier concerns about the viability of establishing a public cloud presence, with the announcement at Dell World of its Dell Beta Cloud Marketplace. Dell has a two stage strategy for the Marketplace, which will first see a largely direct rollout, with some partner opportunities in integration work. The second stage will see much broader partner opportunities, including reselling and white labelling, but Dell was also frank in indicating that the specifics of how this will all work is still being hammered out.

“This is a solution that allows customers to buy virtual machines and purchase virtual containers with a policy engine wrapped around them,” said Nnamdi Orakwue, Dell’s vice president of software strategy operations and cloud. The cloud service providers will include Amazon Web Services, Google and Joyent, and Dell has also partnered with other companies to add functionality — Pertino, which has a cloud VPN to connect between clouds, Delphix, which helps with data management and data migration, and Docker, whose application containers make it all affordable. It will all be managed and billed through a single control panel, and have free Dell support.

Orakwue said that the Marketplace, which took a year to build, and which he said had been a lot of work, will use as its core. Dell had previously expressed skepticism about the wisdom of competing with the huge established cloud vendors, but by defining its Marketplace as a brokerage role, with specific value-adds, Dell plans to make these companies partners rather than competitors.

“We have a point of view that we want to sell cloud on,” he said. “We would like cloud to be a one-stop shop place on where you can buy everything cloud.” He said that by effectively being a broker, Dell would appeal to customers by helping them avoid vendor lock-in and giving them a choice of clouds.

John Swainson, President of Dell Software, acknowledged that Dell has a lot of work to do to build awareness around Dell as being a cloud broker, however.

“We are early in this kind of cloud service, and we will have to do some education,” he said. “Some things do have to happen before people come running to this market. We have three cloud partners. We would like to have 20.”

So how will Dell partners fit into this kind of model, once it gets up and running for real?

In the initial rollout stage, those opportunities will be limited, but they will be there.

“We are working today with a few channel partners in the launch,” Orakwue said. “There is an opportunity around playing a role of systems integration, particularly when you add private cloud to the mix, providing consulting and advice.”

As the service broadens out into a second stage, there will be more partner opportunities, but Dell, including its channel leaders, are still going over what they will be.

“In the future, there will be opportunities we are looking at, but we are making no commitments yet,” Orakwue said. “We are surveying top partners on what they want.”

“White labelling is one option, as is giving a discount code,” Swainson said. “It’s important to us. The channel will help drive business for us, but we need to get in front of it and figure out how.”

Frank Vitagliano, Vice President, Global Channel Strategy & Programs, at Dell, acknowledged the channel role still had to be defined, but indicated they want to do so in a way that will provide strong opportunities for partners, and not compete with partners’ own cloud businesses.

“We are the broker that helps pull it all together, with the idea that the partner can then resell the service, once it is ready,” he said. “We want it to be a valuable and non-threatening service for a solution provider. We are putting the piece parts together, not competing with them.”