For Dell, Joyent Weaves a Software Cloud

Dell Computer (s DELL), once viewed as a fearsome force in the world of Internet infrastructure, has lost some of its awe. Much like its desktop business, the Texas-based computer hardware maker has been put into the shade by its rivals such as Hewlett Packard (s HPQ), IBM (s IBM) and newer entrants such as Cisco Systems (s CSCO.) But even more so by the growing popularity of infrastructure as a service, which allows companies such as Amazon to sell on-demand computing resources without end customers buying the servers.

Enter Joyent, a San Francisco company that started its life as a web hosting company and after a few pivots is now a supplier of cloud computing services to companies big and small. The company is now going to provide Joyent cloud platform software to Dell, which will in turn use that software to offer a new Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications. This would allow Dell to sell its gear to companies that are looking for ways to set up private clouds.

Dell, which is rumored to be an investor in Joyent, has helped companies build private clouds based on its software delivered on Dell machines. The new deal also includes Perot Systems, the services arm of Dell. “They aren’t building on Joyent as a hosted platform, but rather allowing anyone to build out a cloud like, using our software,” Joyent CEO David Young told me earlier today. He later later wrote on the Joyent Blog:

But our end goal has never been to be a hosting provider – there are plenty of those available around the world. Our goal has been to build a software platform that could enable unprecedented efficiency and manageability of infrastructure. We believe that when a platform is built that provides for a fully-programmable data center, it will allow Web developers to start thinking about the data center as a computer.

He explained to me that the company in many ways is making another pivot — going from being a plain vanilla cloud computing service provider to becoming a software provider as well. This doesn’t mean that Joyent is jettisoning its cloud hosting business, Young said, but instead believes that the future for any company like Joyent is in software. Its rivals at Rackspace would agree as that company has been trying hard to add software chops.