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Dell is hoping to give customers a turn-key open source
cloud solution option as an alternative to proprietary, licensed software models with the
launch today of Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution. With this first ever cloud
solution based on the OpenStack platform, Dell’s banking on channel partners to
help deliver open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service to customers and to
revolutionize its own business along the way.

"Dell is going through a transformation as a
company," says John Igoe, executive director of Dell Cloud Solutions.
"We are continuing to evolve and invest in our model and this is one of the
things we’re announcing to further change the way that we engage with our
customers and with our partners in bringing solutions to the marketplace."

Dell OpenStack Cloud Solution comes as a culmination of
Dell’s work as a founding member of the OpenStack initiative. It has worked
closely with a number of key OpenStack partners, including Rackspace, Citrix,
Opscode, Canonical and Intel.

"In demonstrating our commitment to that we have been
working with the community to get it off the ground, attending the design
summits and actually defining, identifying and submitting software blueprints
to the community for consideration as open stack projects," Igoe says.

The solution consists of a hardware reference architecture,
servers, a storage model and also a networking model built around OpenStack
software and a management framework developed by Dell that the company dubbed
"Crowbar." Igoe says it will also include things like white papers
and services from Dell and Rackspace Cloud Builders wrapped around the solution
that will give customers and channel partners the opportunity to engage in the
development of the OpenStack-based cloud.

According to Igoe, this new solution can be a big
opportunity for the channel if partners are ready to take advantage.

"Certainly our channel partners have seen demand in
their customer base to assist and perhaps host environments for the end users
and OpenStack can actually be used by our partners for implementations of
clouds so that they can host payloads from their customers or even make
available transaction-oriented, retail-like clouds for their customers."

The important thing is to not fear cloud as a replacement
for the channel, but instead learn to adapt to customer demands while still
offering the expertise and advice they’ve come to expect from their partners.

"I hear concern from our partners over what the role of
the channel partner is in a cloud environment and I think from the standpoint
of the end users, they’re still looking for the relationship that they currently
have with the channel, which is one of a trusted advisor," Igoe says.
"I think what’s happening is the content that the trusted advisor brings
to the table has to expand to include the cloud. That means cloud knowledge,
subject matter expertise and implementation expertise."