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Dell is looking to be able to offer customers and channel partners 18 to 20 kinds of infrastructure services that they can mix and match into customized services.

That’s the strategy behind the company’s plans, announced Feb. 12, to acquire MessageOne, an e-mail archiving company, according to Raj Kushwaha, vice president of services at Dell.

“Today we are focused on the IT infrastructure management space,” Kushwaha said of Dell’s recent services acquisitions, including Everdream and Silverback. “These offer capabilities that let you better manage your infrastructure more simply.”

Specifically, a channel partner will be able to choose, say, six of the 18 services Dell plans to offer and put them together into a customized offering for one client.  Then the partner can turn around and choose another set of offerings for another client.

“You see a lot of companies with point offerings,” Kushwaha said. “But at the end of the day customers are looking for simplification. What we are talking about is taking our build-to-order hardware model to offer build-to-order services.”

Partners will be able to offer these as either Dell-branded services or on a white label basis under their own brand, said Kushwaha.

Dell’s move into software as a service is focused on providing this kind of backup infrastructure-type services, not hosted applications.

For example, MessageOne offers e-mail business continuity, compliance, archiving and disaster recovery services on Microsoft Exchange Server. That means it provides backups of users’ account information, contacts, in-boxes, calendars and other information stored in Outlook. But it does not offer hosting of the e-mail application Exchange, and offering such services is not something that’s on Dell’s radar.

“Hosting applications is not key to our strategy right now,” Kushwaha said. But Dell will be looking to add more infrastructure-type offerings to its portfolio, and Kushwaha said more announcements will be on the way, although he declined to get down to specifics.

“Are we home yet?” Kushwaha said.  “Absolutely not.”