Cloud is one of the biggest trends in the IT industry, driving revenues for major technology brands and changing the way organisations manage their IT infrastructures and processes.
As such, virtually every major technology firm has its approach to adopting the cloud, and Dell recently outlined its cloud strategy at the company's 2014 Solutions Summit attended by V3.
However, unlike other tech giants, Dell's approach, according to Nick Hyner, EMEA director of Cloud Services at Dell, is to act as a facilitator of cloud adoption for enterprises, rather than provide its own cloud services.
This might come as a surprise as Dell – a manufacturer of servers and a provider of cloud-ready tools, with vast resources at its disposal – might be expected to set up its own service similar to that of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Cloud.
Yet as Hyner and his colleagues explained, Dell has chosen to take the route of being a middle man in the cloud process as it offers several benefits.
This includes mitigating the investment and risk required to develop and roll out its own cloud service, while also avoiding competing in an area that already has players fighting for market share.
Instead, Dell Cloud Manager presents a combination of a software interfaces to handle various cloud services, such as infrastructure-as-a-service, from multiple vendors with consultancy to advise enterprises how to effectively migrate their on-site IT systems into the cloud.
Eric Clark, EMEA managing director of Dell Services, told V3 that different companies require different approaches to cloud adoption. As such, Dell believes presenting them with a one-size-fits-all cloud service is not an effective way to modernise IT systems.
He explained that single public cloud services may be beneficial for small enterprises, but as they grow more tailored and private cloud services are needed: "As some of those companies are successful, grow, get larger and larger, they hit a point where buying the cloud services through a company like Amazon no longer is cost beneficial."
Clark went on to explain that these larger companies are demanding more choice in what they want from their cloud services and not every part of their IT infrastructure is cloud ready, so a single cloud solution would not be appropriate.
"We see the future as companies involved in multi-cloud environments," said Clark explaining that Dell's strategy is to act as a facilitator of multiple cloud services – both public and private – that can be tailored to suit different needs.
"The future that we see, and the investments that we are making, are really around the Cloud Manager, for managing multi-cloud environments across multiple public clouds and multiple private clouds" Clark added.
While other companies may be pushing on ahead with providing cloud computing in a single stack of services, an amalgamation of different services in a hybrid cloud infrastructure may just be the future of cloud computing.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told V3 he believes hybrid cloud is rapidly gaining traction in the cloud arena: "Over the past 12-18 months, businesses considering cloud computing have turned decisively toward hybrid environments as their preferred model.
"That's largely due to the flexibility that hybrid cloud services offer in allowing customers to pick and choose the data and applications they wish to support via cloud."
King went on to describe how major IT brands will still have differing approaches to cloud computing as different models of cloud rise up: "Different vendors are dealing with this reality in different ways.
"For example, IBM works with numerous cloud service providers but also offers its own in-house cloud services via its Soft Layer organisation. Amazon's AWS cloud services are integrated as the public cloud platform with several vendors' solutions, including HP Cloud offerings."
Yet in spite of this, King believes that Dell's strategy to act as a facilitator of cloud services is a shrewd move.
"Dell's decision to help customers connect their own private clouds with public clouds hosted by SaaS vendors and managed service providers (MSPs) allows the company to flexibly leverage its consulting services to accommodate clients' needs.
"But it is also an inherently more cost-effective proposition than building out hosted data centre facilities," he said.
"In addition, by working closely with MSPs and SaaS players, Dell can also avoid the inherent risks of competing against satisfied partners. Overall, I consider Dell's strategy to be smart technically, economically and strategically," concluded King.
While the major players in cloud computing enjoy year-on-year revenue growth with their own cloud solutions, there are a diverse range of smaller cloud service providers offering tools and SaaS that can be integrated with other cloud platforms.
As such, Dell's vision of a hybrid cloud future that's managed via a software and service layer, may very well be the next step towards a fully realised cloud-powered future for the IT industry.
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