Dell World this week was huge. In addition to turning up the cloud strategy to full volume, Dell had Bill Clinton as a guest speaker. Very worthwhile conference, especially the Dell World Social Think Tank: IT Innovation, where I joined about 10 senior cloud thought leaders and another dozen execs from Dell for an invitation-only discussion about the future of innovation in IT. (Hint: it’s all about the cloud and mobile). Check out the highlights here.
This post is full of some juicy details because Dell provided some time with Kevin Jones, Dell’s VP & GM of Infrastructure and Cloud Computing Services, and a 1-on-1 with Nnamdi Orakwue, who is VP and GM of cloud, and former Chief of Staff for Michael Dell. It was awesome to get a chance to catch up with them about where Dell is going in the cloud.
Frankly, if you had told me 2 years ago that Dell was going to do something meaningful in the cloud, I might have been guilty of rolling my eyes. Times have changed, especially when it comes to private cloud.
Nnamdi is one of the guys I would consider to be an O.G. cloud innovator, with more than a decade focused on cloud, including way back when we called SaaS providers “ASPs”. He integrated IBM’s acquisition of ASP provider (SaaS) Corio before moving to Dell. (Coincidentally, I was the first consultant to work with Corio when they were a five-person start up more than a decade ago, figuring out how to make Peoplesoft into a hosted service. Good memories.) But the future is even more interesting for Dell.
Nnamdi and I talked about OpenStack. Dell has made a firm decision that OpenStack is their platform of choice, which means Citrix’s CloudStack may have lost some ground there. There are two new Dell cloud services in beta. One of them is the OpenStack public cloud infrastructure as a service. The other is a new CloudFoundry-based platform as a service, which will likely see general availability in the first half of 2013. It’s interesting to note that although Dell is supporting OpenStack, they have a VMware -based public cloud offering that integrates nicely with their enterprise customers’ largely VMware-powered private clouds.
I imagine that Dell’s future Platforms as a Service components that support IaaS would include things like content distribution networking, load-balancing, DNS, and of course my favorite, security. Speaking of security, Dell spent a lot of time on stage talking about SecureWorks and their cloud security strategy. It’s pretty clear they see this as a differentiator in a world where the security of the cloud itself is of concern to CIOs. It’s a good thing they’re partnering with Trend Micro, the #1 market share leader in cloud security.
Barton George is heading up Dell’s answer to Google’s policy of allowing employees to spend 20% of their time on innovative projects. His innovation group is responsible for some upcoming storage as a service offerings based on the swift API, as well as Dell’s planned Hadoop as a service offering, both slated for 2013.
As an example of how serious Dell is about internal innovation, they launched Project Sputnik under Barton’s group. Sputnik is a SUSE laptop targeted specifically at developers, with a development environment for cloud built right in, and tools to push code automatically to Dell’s cloud. No one would have dreamed that Dell would launch a SUSE laptop a few years ago.
You’ll read about it in more detail in another post, but there’s a storm brewing within the cloud world. Amazon made a point at their recent Reinvent conference of saying that there was really no such thing as private cloud. I’m certainly a fan of AWS, but It seems like the combined private cloud marketing might of Dell and VMware would disagree.
The enterprises I talk to believe that private cloud is real and strategic. To quote Nnamdi, “Private cloud is not going away. It’s Dell’s number one cloud priority.” Further probing revealed that startups with Dell tend to exclusively use public clouds because it’s easy and low risk. Small companies tend to have a mixed public and private cloud, but medium companies are still 80% private cloud and 20% public. Dell is in an amazing number of enterprise accounts.
Because so many cool cloud people came to Dell World, I had a chance to have lunch with Simon Anderson, CEO of dreamhost.com, a large hosting provider I’ve used for years (and a large Dell customer), and to catch up with John Willis, senior executive at enStratus, better known on Twitter as @botchagalupe, and dozens of other friends from the cloudsphere, including Dell’s cloud evangelist Stephen Spector.
In short, Dell World exceeded expectations this year. It was slickly pulled off, well attended, and rife with cloudy announcements. Can’t wait to go again next year.