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Dell shuffles cloud computing cards again with Enstratius buy

Has Dell gotten its cloud house in order with its latest cloud management platform buy or further muddied the waters? It all depends on integration.

Dell's purchase of cloud management platform maker Enstratius this week could be the glue that holds together the company's disparate cloud products into a cohesive whole -- if tricky integration work is done right.

Enstratius, founded in 2009, offers a cloud management platform (CMP) that places an abstraction layer above individual clouds so that multiple clouds, both public and private, can be managed in one place with enterprise-level governance, security, automation and cross-cloud management. Competitors include BMC Software Inc. -- which was sold to a private investment firm for $6.9 billion this week -- and RightScale Inc. While other companies also offer the ability to manage multiple clouds in one place, Enstratius claims its differentiation is a focus on enterprise-class governance features.

There is still more missing in Dell's developer story.

Shlomo Swidler, CEO, Orchestratus

Dell Inc. bought Enstratius for an undisclosed sum, though it's easy to speculate that the deal was not a wallet-buster for Dell since Enstratius (formerly known as enStratus) was a small firm still working through a $3.5 million Series A funding round from 2011.

But it could still be a significant move as Dell irons out its cloud strategy, industry observers say. Enstratius supports managing clouds from Amazon Web Services,  VMware vCloud and Windows Azure, and it could be used to piece together the bevy of software acquisitions Dell has made in recent years.

Dell is also shuffling executives with this acquisition. Nnamdi Orakwue, vice president and general manager of cloud computing for the company, will move from the Services group to lead Dell Software Strategy and Operations, according to internal Dell memos.

Dell's enterprise cloud roadmap

Dell doesn't often come up in conversations with customers around cloud, according to John Treadway, a vice president at the Boston-based consultancy Cloud Technology Partners, Inc..

"This software will give them more of an opportunity to participate in those enterprise conversations," he said. "In theory, if they do it right, they could capture a larger portion of the enterprise audience."

Right now, that's still a big if, according to Alessandro Perilli, a research director at Stamford, Conn.-based analyst firm Gartner Inc.

Along with Enstratius, Dell  has a large number of assets developed from scratch as CMPs, such as  Gale Technologies and now, Enstratius, and  software that  can be used to augment a CMP -- Quest Software, Vizioncore and Vkernel. Quest, in turn, had intellectual property from its Surgient acquisition that could be evolved into a CMP as well, Perilli said.

"There is feature overlap to consider, and massive integration challenges," Perilli said. "One of the core values of a CMP is the tight integration between its management modules. Without that integration, it's just a SKU bundling exercise."

Other industry watchers expect the acquisitions to continue.

"There is still more missing in Dell's developer story," said Shlomo Swidler, CEO of Orchestratus, Inc. "I wouldn't be surprised to hear of Dell acquiring a cloud-focused monitoring and application performance solution soon."


Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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