Dell on Wednesday announced Dell Cloud Marketplace, one of several new products and services the company revealed to kick off its annual Dell World conference in Austin, Texas. Available as a public beta, Dell Cloud Marketplace is designed to help developers and IT managers more easily deploy and manage cloud-based infrastructure, with a particular eye toward bringing enterprise-grade services to midmarket companies intimidated by cloud complexity.
A year ago, CEO Michael Dell took the company private, arguing Dell would be able to more quickly develop its enterprise services without quarterly pressure from investors. At last year's Dell World, the CEO said that in advancing its cloud portfolio, the company would focus on partnerships rather than building its own public cloud services and infrastructure. Cloud Marketplace advances that concept, placing the emphasis on simplified management of cloud products from vendors such as Amazon, Google, and Joyent.
Why might a customer purchase a product via Cloud Marketplace rather than going directly to the vendor? If a customer were to go directly to a vendor, Dell Cloud Marketplace CTO James Thomason told InformationWeek, "the services [he'd] purchase would be substantially the same, with the same price and service." But Dell adds a management layer that wrangles various cloud services into a single dashboard, which Dell claims will speed up management of individual resources and allow IT admins to more easily manage multi-cloud environments.
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"Some companies have dozens of cloud services in use," Thomason said. "Dell Cloud Marketplace encapsulates all of those, brings all of them into a single management portal, where you can pay one bill for your cloud services."
Cloud Marketplace is currently focused on cloud infrastructure, meaning that products such as Microsoft's Office 365 aren't part of the initial offerings. In fact, Azure -- Microsoft's cloud platform -- is one of the biggest names missing from Cloud Marketplace launch offerings. Thomason noted that Microsoft partners with Dell on several other cloud initiatives but said he could not specifically state when or if Microsoft will follow Google and Amazon in Dell's marketplace.
Even so, Dell is working to expand its Cloud Marketplace offerings. Next year products from Delphix, Docker, and Pertino will join the roster, meaning that data migration, data recovery, distributed application deployment, and multi-cloud networking will join the features that can be controlled via Dell's web-based dashboard.
"Consumption of cloud services is driven by developers and end-users, groups that aren't necessarily treated well by traditional IT," Thomason pointed out. Some departments quietly begin using services without looping in IT, he added, which not only imposes security risks but also prevents businesses from purchasing licenses in bulk or otherwise leveraging enterprise-scale buying power.
Dell Cloud Marketplace could address these concerns for companies of any size, but SMBs will be one of Dell's biggest opportunities. Thomason said Cloud Marketplace's simple interface could appeal to IT generalists who don't have experience configuring and managing clouds, as well as to midsized companies trying to grapple with the complexity of multi-cloud environments. He illustrated that Dell will offer curated, one-click deployments built on Docket containers. These resources will address anything from WordPress to Java development stacks, he said, and will save IT admins time and effort.
Though Cloud Marketplace is currently in beta, Thomason described it as "fully supported," explaining that when customers have a question, Dell will serve as the central point of contact rather than redirecting customers to Google, Amazon, or some other partner. That said, support will be limited to US hours during the beta period. Thomason declined to speculate when the beta might end, stating only that Dell will "take off the beta sticker" when the time is appropriate.
You've realized the easy gains from SaaS. Now it's time to dig into PaaS, performance, and more. Get the new Your Next Cloud Move issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest today. (Free registration required.)Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio