Continuing its quest to find revenue beyond the moribund Windows PC industry, Dell on Monday said it will begin offering cloud computing services to businesses in partnership with VMware later this year.
The Dell Cloud, introduced at the VMworld 2011 conference, is based on VMware vCloud Datacenter Services and will support public, private, and hybrid clouds.
Dell also plans to offer related consulting, application, and infrastructure services to enterprises, building on the foundation it laid through its purchase of Perot Systems in 2009 and its $1 billion commitment to cloud computing earlier this year.
In April, Dell said it will invest $1 billion this fiscal year in cloud computing solutions and services for business customers. Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Services, characterized the move as an attempt to help customers thrive as cloud computing displaces traditional IT structures.
As it courts business customers, Dell will be competing with Amazon, IBM, and HP, which recently gave up on trying to compete with Apple's iPad in order to refocus on the enterprise market.
IDC analyst Gard Little notes that security and privacy concerns still top the list of cloud computing worries and that the Dell Cloud attempts to address those concerns and another major issue, migrating data and applications from legacy systems to cloud servers.
In January, Dell acquired SecureWorks to enhance its cloud security capabilities.
Schuckenbrock in a phone interview said that demand for cloud computing is growing among enterprise customers and that security remains one of the biggest barriers to adopting cloud services.
Cloud computing, he said, is part of every conversation Dell has with its business custoomers. "They've told us that they have a lot of interest in private clouds and in understanding how security can be applied to cloud computing," he said.
While business customers recognize the economic benefits of the cloud, Schuckenbrock said that they often need help assessing their applications and work processes to determine where cloud services will work best.
"Dell can bring a lot of value to that process, to help migrate apps to cloud," he said, adding that the company's SecureWorks managed security offering addresses worries companies have about keeping their data under control.
"The target here is to really help customers migrate their workloads to the appropriate delivery model for their businesses," he said.
Dell has already begun working with unnamed Dell Cloud beta customers and plans to offer Dell Cloud in the U.S. during the fourth quarter this year. Availability for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region is slated for 2012.
Dell is also expected to offer cloud services on Microsoft's Azure platform as well as on an unspecified open-source stack next year. Schuckenbrock said that while Dell is not yet ready to make any announcements related to other stacks, the company remains committed to providing the cloud technology that its customers want.
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