While most people think of Dell as a manufacturer of PCs and servers, it’s also a direct marketer of a broad range of third-party products and services in competition with rivals such as CDW and PC Connections. Looking to take that competition to another level, Dell just announced it is beta testing a Dell Cloud Marketplace through which it is reselling infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings from Amazon Web Services, Google and Joyent.
James Thomason, CTO for the Dell Cloud Marketplace, says that in effect Dell is invoking a range of APIs exposed by cloud service providers to become the clearinghouse through which organizations acquire those services. Sometime next year Dell plans to add a broad range of third-party software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications that it will resell through the marketplace as well.
Based on open source Dasein Cloud software that provides a level of abstraction above cloud service providers' APIs and IT automation technology that Dell gained with the acquisition of Enstratius, the Dell Cloud Marketplace also makes use of data virtualization and management software, containers and virtual private networks in the cloud from Delphix, Docker and Pertino, respectively, Thomason says. Dell plans to make available to developers an SDK that will make it simpler for them to make their applications available on the Dell Cloud Marketplace, he says.
Del is also making available an application performance management software based on its Foglight SaaS on the Dell Cloud Marketplace and plans to connect the marketplace to the hub that Docker is creating to distribute applications based on its container software.
In effect, Dell is creating an instance of an API ecosystem that it plans to use to become a distributor of IT services in the age of the cloud. The challenge facing Dell will not so much be convincing providers of IaaS offerings to participate in its marketplace as much as it will be to get developers on board. In a world that once required application software to be distributed in physical boxes that need to sit in a warehouse, software today is distributed via the cloud. As such, there is no shortage of entities competing to get developers to make their wares available via their online store.
For developers this means the terms and conditions under which those deals are consummated should be moving decidedly in their favor. While there are still obviously going to be some online stores that matter more than others, the fact remains that given the prevalence of all those stores the balance of power is once again shifting back toward the developer.