Dell to launch new cloud and SaaS services

Dolph Westerbos, vice president of Services and Solutions for EMEA explains Dell's push into the cloud

Tags: Cloud computingDell CorporationUnited Arab Emirates
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Dell to launch new cloud and SaaS services Dell's Middle East operations have been at the forefront of the company's shift to services says Westerbos. (ITP Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  October 9, 2009

Dell's may have built its reputation on the PC hardware business, but its services and solutions division is building on its portfolio of support and consultancy services, to deliver a new class of cloud-based offerings.

Dolph Westerbos, vice president of Services and Solutions for EMEA, said that his division, which is predominantly responsible for servers and storage solutions aimed at large enterprises, has realigned its services to serve emerging markets in response to growing demand, particularly from the Middle East.

"Dell has really transformed its business over the last year in the Middle East, from what might have been seen as more focused in the desktop space and in the laptop space; now an enormous portion of our business is in the data centre and services space. In some parts of the Gulf, about 50% of our business is in what we call solutions. That is a very significant shift," he said.

The division counts Middle East companies such as Bank of Muscat International among its data centre customers, recently completing a transition of its core and disaster recovery data centres, that serve operations in nine countries to Dell solutions. Dell is also working with a number of large government customers in areas such as education and interior ministries, in both legacy and green field data centre projects in the region.

Part of the company's success is from a best of breed approach, said Westerbos, which many customers prefer to competitors who are more focused on providing the whole vertical stack.

"We are not trying to be the end-all solution, we see ourselves as more the orchestrator, bringing together best of breed partners. To the customer, we then become the single point of managing the project, designing it, implementing it, deploying it, supporting it, but they don't experience this lock in where we are only advising Dell technology because that is all that we would like to be selling them," Westerbos explained.

One area of strength is Dell's ProSupport services, rolled out over the past two years, and its consulting services which have been launched in the last six months in the region through Dell's partner network.

The services focus around four practice areas: virtualization, storage consolidation, end user computing and Microsoft solutions, and are typically short term engagements that address specific customer pain points. Dell makes wide use of software agents and web-based surveys to gather data from customers and their infrastructure in advance, and then develop solutions based on a repository of best practice and consultation. The approach allows Dell to deliver world class services without the need for an army of its consultants, Westerbos said.

A new set of services, which will showcased at GITEX for the first time this year, are Dell's Modular Services. The services were launched in Europe three months ago, and will be available in the Middle East later this year.

The services have been designed to handle heterogeneous environments either at the client or data centre, using agents that are either pre-loaded on hardware or downloaded from the internet to deliver systems management and infrastructure management services through the cloud.

We are excited because we think this is the first time we are introducing, I think, real leading-edge cloud services and SaaS services to this part of the world

Services will include tasks such as software distribution, patch management, software licensing verification, asset management and remote monitoring of hardware. Another offering provides instantaneous Exchange back up, to preserve companies' email services.

Westerbos commented: "We are excited because we think this is the first time we are introducing, I think, real leading-edge cloud services and SaaS services to this part of the world."

Dell has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in data center infrastructure and technology acquisitions to support this initiative over the past two years, he added. While the company expected to see some resistance to SaaS, and the solutions are available as a software licence that can be deployed over the customer's own VPN if desired, Westerbos said that the uptake has been dramatic.

"What we are finding, and the economy is helping in this a little bit, is customers are really ready to take a look now at some very drastic transformational approaches, that really take cost out," he said. "We are having discussions with customers that I think a year ago we couldn't have had. We thought that this offer primarily would be targeted to small and medium customers that can't afford to invest in their own IT infrastructure, as a great way for them to get it done remotely. What we are actually finding is that 50% of our business in the US is actually these much larger companies that are going with a managed solution rather than a self-deployment solution. So we are surprised by the readiness of customers to have a transformational discussion."

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