In 2010, the company's three key cloud offerings were: 1) Virtual Integrated System (VIS) for private cloud building; 2) Data Center Solutions (DCS) for public cloud building; and 3) IT Management Software-as-a-Service -- a public cloud offered to IT-as-a-Service providers.
Here in Asia, Dell is set to focus its cloud-related marketing activities at the Internet vertical this year. According to Ricky Chan (picture), enterprise solutions director for Dell China/Hong Kong, the company will place special emphasis "[on] China where we see major development happening in public cloud offerings from these Internet players. The telco sector is also another industry with great potential in China."
Asia Cloud Forum: What have been Dell's major acquisitions in the cloud space? What tech expertise did they represent?
Ricky Chan: We have made a number of acquisitions to support our [cloud computing] strategy. For example, acquisition in MessageOne (2008), Everdream (2007), Silverback (2007), and ASAP (2007) formed the basis to support our public cloud offering -- IT Management Software-as-a-Service. For private cloud, we've already made acquisition in Scalent (2010) and Boomi (2010) to support multi-vendor heterogeneous virtual infrastructure and simplified data transfer between public cloud and on premise applications. On the infrastructure side, acquisition made in EqualLogic (2008), Exanet (2010), Ocarina (2010), really helped with enabling virtualized storage layer, which is also fundamental in enabling private cloud building.
Of course, service is the key in ensuring success of the cloud journey. Dell's acquisition in Perot (2009) and BearingPoint (2009) in China provides us this service capability worldwide to make this successful.
By what percentage has cloud computing/ cloud services contributed to the overall revenue in 2010? Do you expect any change in 2011?
Chan: Significant revenue contributed from data center solutions (DCS) supporting the largest cloud operators to power their data centers around the world. If we separate DCS' function and look at it as a separate company, we will see it ranks third in server market share in US and fifth in global ranking, and we see continual growth in 2011. This indicates the trend of moving computing power to a few large cloud operators around the world. For virtual integrated system private cloud offerings, we are already working with more than 100 customers in China and Hong Kong, we expect IT transformation to cloud will take off in 2011.
What have been your customers' three biggest concerns about cloud computing/ cloud services in 2010? How have you addressed their challenges?
Chan: Different verticals will have different opinions/ challenges. For example, customers building private cloud for internal IT use versus Internet/Telco customers building for public cloud business operation will be quite different.
The three key focuses are:
- TCO -- Total cost of ownership of acquiring and more importantly running a cloud, this applies to both public/private as efficiency and total cost will be the key driver, especially for public cloud where operating cost has direct impact to its competitiveness in marketplace.
- Openness -- As cloud technology is still new to market and customers will likely to stay open to adopt an architectural approach rather than technology focus approach to avoid lock-in. Multi-vendor support with different hypervisor, network, server, storage is often required especially in private cloud building. Dell strongly believes that being open means providing more options to the end users. The cloud landscape is far from mature and until we have a few dominant players and established standards, we want to help the customer evaluate the right technologies that meet their business needs and not be locked into a vertical stack. In this regard, Dell has partnered with industry leaders (Intel, Microsoft, VMware, Citrix) and contributed significantly to such efforts, including the Intel-Cloud2015 initiative, Rackspace-Dell-NASA Openstack efforts, Cloud Security Alliance, to name a few.
- Application transformation -- How to select the appropriate applications and transform them to run on cloud effectively. This may involve transforming existing legacy applications to adopt distributed parallel computing architecture so the underlying virtual infrastructure could be utilized effectively.
What specific trends in cloud computing have you observed in the past year?
Chan: This year we have seen a high degree of interest in on premise, private cloud solutions for mainstream enterprise applications, along with a significant interest in subscription SaaS for IT management, sales force automation, and office productivity.
SMB customers have been most interested in SaaS as a method to reduce infrastructure costs and alleviate the need for in-house IT specialists. Large enterprises, which traditionally have well-established IT department have been most focused on increasing efficiency of delivering computing resources and moving into the role of "broker." Consulting to help IT leaders transition into this role and complete tasks such as development of a service catalog, piloting new virtualization technologies, and evaluation of public cloud alternatives to their current practices, have been of increasing interest.
|"Large enterprises [are] moving into the role of "broker." |
-- Ricky Chan, Dell China/HK
For many enterprises, building a private cloud is simply the next step on an evolutionary path that began with data center consolidation. When a company has established a strong virtualization underpinning and is working with traditional applications, an evolutionary approach to the private cloud makes perfect sense.
However, for some enterprises, taking a revolutionary approach to private clouds may be more efficient and much more appropriate. This revolutionary approach makes use of "new world" applications that are both written and deployed in the cloud. Unlike enterprise applications, which are not architected to be used at scale, these cloud-native applications are designed from the ground up for scalability and use across a multitude of servers. As a result, they run more efficiently, are more responsive and deliver a better end user experience.
To help enterprises understand and begin moving down the revolutionary path to cloud computing, Dell has initiated a number of key strategic partnerships through its cloud ISV partner program and its development of specialized private cloud solutions. Through our support in Perot/BearingPoint services arm, we help customers or ISV partners to modernize and transform applications to achieve the atomicity and parallelism needed in cloud computing environment.
Besides seeing the application architecture transformation above, end user access to cloud through various mobile devices such as smartphones will also be another technology evolution. Dell has introduced to market various mobile devices, including the latest Dell "Streak," Android Smartphone. Standardization in mobile OS is happening.
Finally, apart from application modernization and mobile device access, data center design to support large scale homogeneous cloud computing environment is another important topic. In order to achieve "Green," and to reduce overall opex associated when running a cloud, customized/optimized servers, rack-based solutions, and container-based data center solutions have been adopted by some large cloud operators. Dell looks at data center itself as one large giant computer. We've introduced revolutionary approach such as modular data center in the market, which helps to dramatically shorten the lead time in building a data center and drive data center efficiency to the next level.
We continue to see room for improvement in next generation of data center for further optimization in cloud environment, from server, storage, and even to network.
What specific trends in cloud computing do you foresee for the next three years?
Chan: Dell is seeing the IT industry is going through a major change or evolution, we called this "Virtual Era." When we look back at our IT history, we've only seen a few major shifts, mainframe, mini, client/server, Internet computing, etc.
In the new "Virtual Era," virtualization/cloud is becoming the key technology driver will be the fundamental change in the way people use IT or access information. Efficiency will be the core business benefit from this transformation.
Firstly, part of small and medium business customers' product demand (both hardware and software) will change to cloud service subscription. Traditionally, end user customers buy and own "products," employ a vendor to provide implementation and ongoing support services. We may call it "on-premise solutions." In the next three years, we foresee that more small and medium size end user customers will subscribe cloud services due to lower costs, instead of owning "on-premise solutions."
Secondly, the product (hardware and software) purchasing power will move from small and medium size commercial customers to certain public cloud service providers. These emerging public cloud service providers will become giant customers of both hardware and software. In recent years, many well-known public cloud service providers have become customers of Dell's DCS (Data Center Solutions) and the volume of their purchase can exceed many of those at the multinational corporation level.
Thirdly, large enterprise customers will build their own private cloud infrastructure for higher efficiency primarily. Moreover, centralized private cloud within a group can help the IT team in head office strengthen their control in IT resources and governance over their subsidiaries. For these reasons, many of our customers are actively planning private cloud infrastructure based on Dell VIS (Virtualized Integrated System).
Lastly, as cloud services become more widely available and accessible, there not boundaries for local public cloud service providers to expand beyond their geographic location. On the other hand, their competitions can also come from other parts of the world.
What is the current state of cloud computing adoption in Asia?
Chan: We have been seeing enterprises in Australia, New Zealand and Japan being most mature in cloud computing adoption with about 30% or more customers already starting to run cloud-related initiatives. Meanwhile, the accounts in China and India are carrying the highest percentage in terms of adoption and we foresee this to continue in the next 18 months.
From the vertical perspective, telco and online/Internet as well IT firms seem to be the early adopters around cloud-related solutions.
A few discussions about cloud compliance and industry standards are going on in the ICT community at present? What's your take on this?