Dell backs away from OpenStack public cloud, steps up to Enstratius

Dell(s dell) has changed up its cloud strategy again. As of Monday, it has officially backed off on plans to anoint OpenStack as the basis its upcoming public cloud and said it will rely instead on third parties to offer that capability. Dell will act as the single-source supplier front-ending all these diverse clouds, and that decision makes Enstratius, which Dell bought two weeks ago, the focal point of its cloud strategy.

Nnamdi Orakwue, VP of Dell Cloud

Nnamdi Orakwue, VP of Dell Cloud

The company’s first public cloud partners are Joyent, ScaleMatrix and ZeroLag. The rationale: Dell customers don’t want to be locked into a single cloud vendor and would like assurances that workloads can be moved as needed if their requirements change or their current cloud is not up to snuff. ZeroLag gives Dell a VMware-based cloud option.

There are two takeaways from the news, Nnamdi Orakwue, VP of Dell Cloud, said in an interview on Monday. “First, private cloud success is our bread and butter there our top priority on the open-source side is OpenStack. The second is multi-cloud management and helping our customers deal with it via Enstratius.” The Enstratius management offering supports more than 20 different clouds.

Orakwue acknowledged that Dell’s cloud strategy has been a work in progress. Late last year, the company said its public cloud would be based on OpenStack and would come out a year later than expected. Today’s news changes that.

Dell may add other cloud partners to the mix later and could take an equity stake in some of them. (GigaOM’s Derrick Harris wrote in 2011 that Joyent would be a smart investment for Dell if it’s serious about the cloud biz.)

On the one hand, Orakwue said Dell will be “platform agnostic,” on the other he said OpenStack is clearly its platform of choice on the private cloud side. You have to wonder if that’s a consolation prize for the OpenStack faithful.

Things are heating up on the public cloud front for sure. VMware is expected to re-announce its public cloud platform — which will run in as-yet-unnamed partner data centers — on Tuesday and the whole topic of public, private and hybrid cloud deployments will doubtless come up at GigaOM’s Structure event in San Francisco next month.