The onslaught of cloud plays plumb into the hands of the channel, Dell asserted at its European Solutions Conference in Madrid this week.
The vendor recently launched a three-pronged cloud channel programme in Europe that allows partners to sign up as Cloud Builders, Cloud Providers or Cloud Services Enablers.
At the same time, Dell is rolling out its own VMware-powered datacentres across the globe that allow it to deliver infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to customers, either directly or through partners.
The UK has been up and running for three months but plans for Dell datacentres in Germany and France have been postponed due to the bleak economic climate, vice president of EMEA channel sales Emmanuel Mouquet confirmed.
Mouquet told the 180 assembled partners that just five to 10 per cent of the overall IT market is currently cloud-based.
The Cloud Builder model allows partners to build private clouds for their customers, while the more cash-intensive Cloud Provider model sees partners building their own datacentres to punt their cloud services to customers.
The third model – Cloud Enabler – is the one that aligns crisply with the channel's traditional skills, said Mouquet.
"Their historical knowledge is around integrating the different pieces of hardware, software and services from different vendors," he said. "This is all about doing the same thing, but in a virtualised environment. So I truly believe the cloud is not a threat but an opportunity for the IT channel."
Mouquet acknowledged that Cloud Providers would typically have to invest $1m (£625m) in a datacentre, making it a challenging model for those without a massive balance sheet and backing from a bank.
"We are trying to help them with some financial engineering if this is the business model they choose," he said.
Dell's own datacentre push was initially greeted with suspicion from partners but Mouquet said the UK facility's early clients have typically been partners rather than customers.
"The first users are partners who use Dell cloud services [and integrate them] into a complete offering for customers," he said. "That is where we have seen the best results so far.
"You will never sell data as a standalone solution – it will be part of an overall project with other pieces of software and infrastructure. The ‘new cloud' is a mix of on-premise, plus private and public cloud, and this is really where we see partners using it. And that is why I believe adoption [of Dell cloud] from partners will be faster than among end users."
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