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Dell's OpenStack-based public cloud to go live in Q4

Archana Venkatraman

Dell’s Openstack-based public cloud, which is in beta-testing, will be made available in the fourth quarter of 2013, the company has confirmed.

While its open source public cloud service will not undercut other public cloud prices, it will have better and simpler service level agreements (SLAs) than existing cloud services, the vice-president of Dell Cloud, Nnamdi Orakwue told Computer Weekly.

“Our public cloud won’t be cheaper, but out SLAs will be much better than other offerings,” Orakwue said. “How we calculate the downtime and how customers will be paid in case of outages will all be a lot simpler."

According to Orakwue, while AWS (Amazon Web Services) is cheaper, its licensing agreement and SLAs are very complicated. “How [Amazon] calculate downtime is very complicated,” he said.

Dell’s OpenStack-based public cloud is currently under pilot use by its selected customers – including an unnamed UK security company and Janet, a government-funded organisation, which provides IT resources for UK’s research and education sector.

The company’s cloud strategy includes private cloud, Data Centre Solutions – the customised cloud services and its public cloud, Orakwue explained.

Moving to open source cloud

Its public cloud was initially built fully on VMware’s vCloud suite. Dell had been using VMware cloud infrastructure for about a year but its pricing and licensing was not proving cost effective and so it decided to move to open source cloud infrastructure, said Orakwue.

“But our new public cloud strategy has elements of both VMware infrastructure and OpenStack,” he said.

“Many customers are already virtualised with VMware servers and prefer VMware cloud because they are familiar with the system and it seemed like a good place to start building our public cloud services on VMware,” he said.

While VMware cloud has positive aspects, there are also issues such as supplier lock-in and lack of interoperability in a proprietary infrastructure that will hinder cloud adoption, Orakwue said.

In the long run, all other things being equal, OpenStack will be a cost-effective public cloud platform for customers and suppliers than a proprietary public cloud

Nnamdi Orakwue

“We cannot ignore how open public clouds are becoming popular and so we have introduced elements of OpenStack too," he said.

The company will push the OpenStack-based cloud service to customers unless they specify a VMware platform, Orakwue added.

Dell considered other open source cloud platforms, including CloudStack, but selected OpenStack for its robust community and stability.

“We were waiting for OpenStack to mature before we built on it and the infrastructure is very stable right now,” he said.

Other companies such as Rackspace, IBM and HP have also built their cloud services on OpenStack.

HP developed too soon

According to him, HP took the OpenStack platform code to develop its cloud “a little too soon”. HP’s public cloud does not resemble OpenStack very much, he said.

“We wanted to wait and we think OpenStack is better now and is ready for production.”

Dell is conducting the beta test on OpenStack version 5 – Essex. It will move to the next version Folsum later this quarter.

“A community cloud is always going to be better than a single company cloud. With community efforts open source cloud will move from proving beneficial to some customers to being beneficial to all customers,” he said.

“In the long run, all other things being equal, OpenStack will be a cost-effective public cloud platform for customers and suppliers than a proprietary public cloud,” Orakwue said.  

But Dell’s primary focus will continue to be on its private cloud services. “Customers are showing interest in the public cloud, but when it comes to making actual purchasing decisions they are picking private cloud," he said.

But Dell also wants to be ready when its customers want to burst out to the public cloud, he added.


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