Dell Quietly Intros Public Cloud Storage, Stays Silent On Channel's Role

Dell has quietly launched a public cloud storage service in conjunction with technology provider Nirvanix, and promises it will bring the service to its channel partners in the near future.

Dell put information introducing its new Dell Cloud Storage with Nirvanix -- Public Service on its website but otherwise did not make a formal announcement, instead leaving its partner Nirvanix to spread the work.

A Dell spokesperson declined to provide any more details of its new public cloud storage service other than to say that the company is currently working on a channel program.

[Related: Dell To Integrate Technology, Licensing, Service, Cloud Across All Storage Lines ]

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Steve Zivanic, vice president of marketing at San Diego-based cloud storage technology developer Nirvanix, said the new offering lets Dell sell access to the Nirvanix public cloud storage network.

"It also lets Dell roll out a private cloud for customers that can be hosted or based on the customer's site, or in a third-party data center, or in a Dell data center," Zivanic said. "Just because it's a private cloud, it doesn't have to be run in the customer's data center."

The Nirvanix storage cloud provides for up to four active copies of customer data to be kept on geographically-separated cloud data centers, with pricing and service-level agreement (SLA) depending on how many copies are kept. Billing, which is handled by Dell, is based on the size of the data the customer stores in the service.

In addition to handling billing, Dell also works with customers to register with Nirvanix and to activate their accounts. Nirvanix is handling all support, maintenance, troubleshooting and availability issues.

By working with Nirvanix, Dell is rolling out a service that is already in operation for a quick time to market, Zivanic said. Dell can also take advantage of reference customers already using the Nirvanix service including the University of Southern California, Cerner Healthcare and NBC Universal, he said.

The Dell Cloud Storage with Nirvanix -- Public Service combines Nirvanix's global footprint with thousands of Dell sales people and partners around the world, Zivanic said.

"When you think about the potential impact on the industry, companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft Azure have never had to deal with a company the scale of Dell, a company with presence and penetration in enterprises, SMEs [small to midsize enterprises], and SMB that Dell has," Zivanic said. "Dell can scale out real fast."

NEXT: Competitor, Partner Challenges

Dell is now also offering a public cloud storage service which its top storage competitors cannot answer, Nirvanix's Zivanic said.

EMC, for instance, has Mozy, which is more aimed at consumers and small businesses, as well as its Atmos storage line, which is used by a few large service providers to build the infrastructure for cloud storage, he said. Hewlett-Packard's cloud storage service has file size limits and does not provide for live replicas or for a true global name space, he said.

"If Dell is in the customer site bidding against EMC, NetApp or Hitachi, and the customer asks for storage as a service, those companies can't compete," he said.

Dell is not Nirvanix's first strategic cloud storage partner. The company also has a deal with IBM under which IBM OEMs Nirvanix's technology to build its own enterprise-focused storage cloud offering, he said.

Dell's storage solution provider partners are interested in looking at the Dell Cloud Storage with Nirvanix -- Public Service but have yet to hear about details from the vendor.

Dave Hiechel, president and CEO of Eagle Software, a Salina, Kan.-based solution provider and Dell storage partner, said he has not yet seen the Dell service.

"I've looked at Nirvanix before," Hiechel said. "It's pretty resilient. But not inexpensive."

Eagle Software has been helping customers build private clouds using storage technology from Dell and from Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Nexsan, and it can show a return on investment of 18 months compared to a public cloud for some customers.

Even so, Hiechel said he will look at Dell's new public cloud storage offering. "It's pretty funny to see a storage vendor partner with someone else on a storage cloud," he said.

For CMT, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider that works with Dell but has a closer relationship with NetApp, a Dell-branded public cloud storage offering would be good to have for customers looking specifically for Dell storage technology, said Victor Villegas, the company's vice president of business development and alliances.

"I'll have to take a look at it," Villegas said. "It wouldn't be a disadvantage. It would be just another offering we could do."