Parts of Dell cloud services plans delayed

As Dell Inc. tries to convert itself into a cloud services leader, the server maker is finding it hard to stay on schedule.

Dell recently revealed that a planned Platform as a Service appliance based on Microsoft's Windows Azure has fallen off the server maker's radar.

Additionally, Dell Inc. has pushed back delivery of a hosted data analytics service in the cloud until the first quarter of next year.

They're just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.

Carl Brooks,
analyst, 451 Research

The server titan was a launch partner for Microsoft's Windows Azure Platform Appliance in July 2010. In recent press briefings, however, Dell executives have backed away from the commitment to offer the cloud appliance.

"The [Dell Azure] appliance was a research project, and it appears that the way the market is evolving that it is out of the picture, which would render Dell's business plan around Azure moot," said Mark Eisenberg, director at New York-based enterprise application and cloud integration firm Fino Consulting LLC.

That shouldn't be too much of a surprise, some observers say. Like the weather, the cloud market forecast seems to change by the minute.

"They're just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, which has been a consistent theme for Dell and cloud," said Carl Brooks, analyst for infrastructure and cloud computing at Tier1 Research, a division of 451 Research LLC.

Microsoft declined to comment on Dell's apparent change of plans regarding Azure. For its part, Dell has said very little as well.

"Microsoft is a valued Dell partner. We evaluate offerings to extend to our customers on an ongoing basis, and at this time have made no decisions with regards to when we will offer Azure," said Kevin Hanes, executive director for infrastructure and cloud computing services at Dell.

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Dell also has pushed back the expected delivery date of a promised data analytics offering, company officials said.

Last August, Dell debuted Dell Cloud Business Applications -- a set of about 70 Software as a Service, or SaaS, applications. At the time, the company said that the applications were to be accompanied by Dell-hosted "cross-application cloud analytics supported by end-to-end Dell services." Dell Cloud Integrated Analytics were originally slated to ship during the first half of 2012, but now have been rescheduled, with general availability planned for the first quarter of 2013, said Paulette Altmaier, general manager of Dell's Business Applications group.

According to cloud experts, the changes appear to be adjustments to an ambitious agenda that Dell embarked on in 2011. That agenda was meant to help transform the company from a server and PC vendor into a serious player in the cloud services market as a counterweight to the faltering hardware business.

"If Dell wants to offer a compelling service, it has to be one where a significant percentage of the market can actually use it to meet their needs," Fino Consulting's Eisenberg said. "I would say that the facts changed and Dell is adjusting their strategy."

Stuart J. Johnston is Senior News Writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at sjohnston@techtarget.com.

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