The Dell announcement - or should I say series of announcements - took a few days to digest but I now recognise it as a bold move on Dell’s part albeit one that the company is almost forced to take.

I had a briefing on the announcement but it was hard to take it all in at once. Not only was it a tsunami of information -several product announcements as well as a strategic shift - but it was delivered in room whose temperature had been cranked up to temperatures normally used for breeding bacteria, certainly not conducive to sharp thinking.
Furthermore, in my experience, when a company brings out a mass of an announcements all at the same time, it’s often to disguise any real advance in the hope that quantity will mask any lack of quality.It wasn't until I read the support documents that the penny finally dropped.

The most interesting was the partners that Dell was choosing to work with. The likes of Aster Data and Greenplum are companies that have innovative approaches to the problems of extracting and handling large volumes of data.

But the most intriguing two, by some way, are Canonical and Joyent. Canonical, the Ubuntu company is a sign that Dell means what it says about becoming more open. And Joyent because the type of integrated service that the cloud provider is renowned for is going to be a good fit with Dell's servers. It seems to be a natural fit but there haven't been many such alliances between cloud providers and hardware vendors.

The open source tie-up is perhaps not so shocking. To be fair to Dell, it has a good track record of promoting open source, being one of the first to offer Ubuntu on its laptops, at a time when most netbook vendors saw adopting open source as one step away from recommending Satanism as lifestyle option.

Certainly, the Dell approach contrasts strongly with the recent tie-in between Microsoft and HP, a move that did little to extend choice to customers. But what both moves have in common is that organisations are realising that the best of breed approach, where customers buy what they want and rely on IT to hang it all together is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Customers don’t want to spend their time configuring and kludging systems together, it might be a badge of honour among some people to have put in the late nights getting recalcitrant products to work together.

However, here’s one big part of the jigsaw missing from the Dell proposals. There’s no tie-up with any virtualisation company. Given the close intertwining between cloud and virtualisation, that looks like an omission that the company has to address at some point. Whether it's true that virtualisation is cloud and cloud is virtualisation, there are certainly strong parallels between the two and this is the area that's ripe for Dell to address. But its steps earlier this week are certainly steps in the right direction.

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