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Dell goes for riches in niches with Gov Cloud

'Amazon? That's a square peg'

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After fleeing the public cloud infrastructure market, Dell is back with a suite of "government cloud" products – but it won't start competing with Amazon's own GovCloud until 2014.

The government cloud tech was announced by Dell on Tuesday, and will see the box-slinger sell integrated software and hardware appliances into government agencies, along with eventually spinning up its own public government cloud service.

Naturally, prices aren't available.

"This is a highly customizable solution that we're offering to government customers, dependent on needs that specific customers have," said Louis Matrone, Dell's general manager for Dell Services for the Federal Government.

The appliances will be compliant with an alphabet soup of federal regulations relating to security and data storage, including FedRAMP, FISMA, DIACAP, NIACAP and HIPAA, among others.

The announcement of the new cloud services follows Dell junking its OpenStack-based infrastructure-as-a-service public cloud. The GovCloud service won't be able to launch and compete with HP and Amazon's clouds until the company gains FedRAMP compliance, and that isn't expected until late 2013 or early 2014, we understand.

"The core infrastructure is based on Red Hat primarily because of the control sets – the security controls require a system that's a little less dynamic," Jeff Lush, CTO of Dell Services for Federal Government, told The Reg. "The constant improvement in those [OpenStack] systems – they're updating them every couple of months for the way they're dealing with core infrastructure – that becomes difficult for highly secured environments."

Dell's government tech will include Compellent storage, Force10 networking and Quest systems management software, we understand.

"From there it is built to meet specific requirements the customer may have for their particular environment, and can be made to meet NIST 800-53, DIACAP, HIPAA, and other standards the customer may require," a Dell spokesman told us.

The Dell reference architecture for agencies wishing to deploy within their data centers became available on Tuesday, but the remote Dell-hosted multi-tenant cloud won't come along until 2014. It will be served from Dell data centers in Quincy, Washington, and Ashburn, Virginia.

Dell will also offer software-as-a-service tech such as application integration from Boomi, and app migration.

For Dell, the cloud has proved to be a challenging experience, and the switching from its two previous OpenStack and VMware cloud environments to Red Hat raises a multitude of questions. The main one we have to ask is, given Dell's experience in selling to big government, why has it taken it so long to come up with a service equivalent to Amazon Web Services' GovCloud?

Dell's answer to this question is more indicative of an old attitude than a frank recognition of the market, we feel.

"What you saw out of the box early was taking a commercial model – a square peg – and putting it into a round hole which clearly is not the right way to go," Lush told us. "We've built our cloud from the ground up specifically focused to meet this specific vertical requirements. That's the approach Dell has taken – specific cloud offerings to meet our specific client needs." ®

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