AUSTIN, TEXAS: CEO Michael Dell, who now owns 75% of newly privatized Dell, after buying the $57-billion company for $25 billion, kicked off the second day of Dell World 2013, with a number of announcements, from the storage and mobility news unveiled earlier this week, to a host of partnerships. He was very upbeat about taking the company private, and having “the freedom to make the bold moves that are necessary”.
It will take months, if not years, to see how the new and/or extended partnership announcements with Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, CenturyLink, Red Hat and Accenture will play out, but just from the sheer number, one would have to say Dell is off to a good start. He said the world’s biggest start-up is increasingly focused on the cloud, and partners will be key there. “At the heart of our cloud strategy is offering our customers choice and agility.”
Microsoft, which is no stranger to the company which still makes a lot of money off of PCs, and even loaned $2 billion to Mr. Dell for his takeout, will partner with Dell to deliver Windows Azure cloud platform to Dell customers worldwide through the Dell Cloud Partner Program, expanding upon the previously announced alliance providing Application Development Services on Azure. Dell also announced on Thursday that Dell Cloud Manager, its cloud infrastructure management solution for deploying and managing enterprise-class applications and the consumption of cloud services in public, private and hybrid clouds, is adding support for Windows Azure Compute on top of the already supported Windows Azure Storage.
In addition to Azure, Dell will also offer the Google Cloud Platform and its compute, storage and application services to developers and businesses worldwide through the Dell Cloud Partner Program next year.
“Combining over 15 years of technical innovation and datacenter expertise at Google with Dell’s business and integration solutions will enable new ways for customers to take advantage of the benefits of cloud,” said Shailesh Rao, Head of Google Cloud Platform, Google.
Dell and Red Hat have been working together for more than 14 years, but customer choice would certainly seem to be key to the expanded relationship, which will see the companies jointly engineer enterprise-grade, private cloud solutions based on the open-source OpenStack platform. As part of the expanded relationship, Dell becomes the first company to OEM Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform.
With the addition of CenturyLink and its new CenturyLink Cloud to the Dell Cloud Partner Program, customers will have access to a variety of public cloud services, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Each service is accessible via web services API and in a unified management interface that includes significant automation and orchestration features specifically for CenturyLink Cloud. A PaaS offering based on Cloud Foundry and Iron Foundry is also available.
There are a number of elements to the Accenture agreement, including joint development and sales of a new set of offerings: Cloud Solutions, a private and public cloud ecosystem focused on Microsoft applications and platforms; Application Assured Platforms, custom infrastructure and application configurations with management software supporting standard business processes and mission critical applications; and Security Services, combining Dell SecureWorks’ with Accenture and Avanade’s (a joint Accenture and Microsoft venture) expertise in security consulting. A four-year global go-to-market agreement involves working together to build, implement and manage data center solutions for mid-market and select enterprise customers.
The cloud partnership I found most intriguing was the agreement with Dropbox to sell Dropbox for Business through Dell’s sales organization. Just Google Shadow IT and you’ll come up with Dropbox as a prime representative, but it has had its challenges in moving from its consumer base to a business audience.
A PwC survey found that 50% of IT managers admit that half of their budget is wasted on managing Shadow IT, but for Dell, embracing Shadow IT internally made a lot of sense. Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis signed a Dropbox cloud-based file storage enterprise deal because “my users need that capability.” Rather than being on the defensive about users adopting consumer technology, she said CIOs should embrace it assertively. “You have to understand why that shadow IT came in to begin with… All of a sudden, the business comes to you instead of finding shadow IT.”
Dropbox said over 200 million people and 4 million businesses use the service and 1 billion files are uploaded daily. Add in the tens of millions of Dell business customers and this looks like it could quickly become a very popular offering.
In addition to its partnership agreements, Dell also announced a $300 million Strategic Innovation Venture Fund targeted at early-to-growth-stage companies in emerging technology areas including storage, cloud computing, big data, next-generation data center, security and mobility.
The new fund builds on the $60 million Dell Fluid Data Storage Fund announced last year that involved engagements with over 100 storage companies. Most of the investments will involve partnerships with other VCs, and will vary from $2-15 million, with the average in the $3-5 million range, said Dell CFO Brian Gladden.
DISCLAIMER: I am attending this event courtesy of Dell as an “invited guest”, and Dell has covered my travel and expenses (air fare, hotel and meals).