Monday, December 17, 2012

Dell Has A New Platform As A Service That Actually Makes Sense

dellDell has a new platform as a service (PaaS) and it actually makes sense. The service is called Project Fast PaaS, part of the new Dell Cloud Labs, which also includes Project Sputnik, the Linux laptop for developers and Crowbar, and the?open-source cloud deployment framework that Dell originally created to support its “OpenStack- and?Hadoop-powered offerings.” FastPaaS and the new Dell Cloud Labs reflects a paradox that I felt all week at Dell World. While Fast PaaS represents the innovation happening at Dell, as with any big enterprise company, it is dependent on making big deals with high margins that serve the basic demands of large enterprises. On Tuesday, I moderated a think tank?discussion that unfortunately was stacked with Dell managers. One customer attended. To my fault, a few Dell managers took control of the conversation at certain points,?which?was unfortunate. But they did express some perspectives that reflect the real conflict at Dell these days. Michael Cot?, a former RedMonk analyst who is now Dell’s director of cloud strategy and special programs summed it up well in a blog post yesterday: IT faces a real conflict. It’s a time of rapid technology advancement. Customers want access to the latest and greatest but IT still needs to keep?everything?running, too.?They are expected to make sure the email works and be innovative, too. It’s an impossible mission. In Cot?’s?words: The mind set of keeping things stable a reliable (the five nines crowd) doesn?t fit with coming up with new stuff. Practices like Agile and the rapid delivery cycles in DevOps can help, but at some point, the two paths of ensuring stability and profiting from disruption are divergent enough that you can?t perfectly co-mingle them?and yet, that?s what we expect from the IT department. Fast PaaS is a great example of how Dell is seeking to be innovative in developing a unique strategy but cloaking it as a “solution.” It tells a good story about what Dell is trying to do with its cloud strategy. Dell does not want to be like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and offer a blank virtual machine. It wants to offer solutions. And I think the strategy works. Project Fast PaaS is built on Cloud Foundry, the open-source PaaS developed initially by VMware and now operating under an Apache license. The PaaS is on-premise — it’s private. Everything comes fully packaged. A developer fills in some forms that include


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