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Dell this week launched the public beta of a cloud marketplace that it expects, sometime in the next year, to involve its channel partners that specialize in building clouds.

“We’d like our Cloud Builders partners to participate,” said Cheryl Cook, vice president of Dell’s Enterprise Solutions Group. “We’re working through those details now.”

The Dell Cloud Marketplace is currently limited to a handful of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers, including Amazon Web Services, Google and Joyent, whose offerings the Dell salesforce is reselling directly to customers. However, in 2015, Dell plans to extend the scope of its cloud marketplace ambitions to include a broad range of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

To build the Dell Cloud Marketplace, a mix of data virtualization and management, container and virtual private network technologies from Delphix, Docker and Pertino, respectively, are being employed to enable developers to more easily invoke services across the Dell cloud ecosystem. Dell also plans to offer Delphix, Docker and Pertino solutions via the Dell Cloud Marketplace next year.

Dell is not the only vendor to create a cloud marketplace. However, Dell functions not only as manufacturer, but also as a direct marketer of a wide variety of third-party products that compete with companies, such as CDW and PC Connection. The Dell Cloud Marketplace now extends those direct marketing efforts into the cloud.

The challenge facing solution providers in the channel will be determining the cloud marketplaces in which to participate. Distributors, for example, are investing heavily in creating their own cloud marketplaces that already aggregate a broad range of cloud services.

“I really like our position,” said Kirk Robinson, senior vice president for commercial markets and global accounts for North America at Ingram Micro. “We give the partner one place to find everything they need.”

Dell, however, has been establishing relationships with solution providers in the channel for years. It’s only recently that Dell established relationships with two-tier distribution partners. Many of those partners also buy products from other vendors, so navigating multiple cloud marketplaces could prove to be a challenge in the years ahead.

For the most part, solution providers in the channel will need to participate in a marketplace run by a distributor and one or two others run by their major vendor partners, said Dorothy Rosenthal, vice president of Viewpoint Research. In general, however, solution providers still have a fair amount of time to sort out their cloud strategies, she said.

“It won’t be for at least another three years before solution providers have to make a life or death decision,” said Rosenthal. “In the meantime, they are still selling, for example, more storage to their existing customers than ever.”

It will, however, become more of a challenge once a larger percentage of customers opts for IaaS, versus making capital investments in IT infrastructure, which for the past several decades has provided bread and butter revenue for resellers in the channel.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.