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Dell’s announcement yesterday of a new EqualLogic PS6000 series of storage arrays might appear to be a straightforward attempt to elevate the company’s stature in enterprise data centers. But, I think the company has an opportunity to aim higher than that.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) has always been about providing better computers at a lower price by finding economies at every stage of the development and delivery supply-chain. Some call this commoditizing markets. Others see it disintermediating the channel. Any way you look at it, from its inception, Dell has been in the business of redefining and disrupting the way the computer industry operates.

Dell helped to bring PCs and laptops to the masses via direct online sales. It made it easy for companies to acquire servers in the same fashion. Now, Dell is setting its sights on transforming the way companies operate their data centers. It's doing this by leveraging its EqualLogic capabilities to raise the bar regarding the performance and flexibility of today’s server technology, as well as simplifying and automating the deployment process.

Dell’s foray into the data center will be a welcome relief to some CIOs and other corporate executives who have been pleased with Dell’s products and services at the departmental and end-user level, and frustrated with the complexities and costs of traditional hardware in their data centers.

But, I would be disappointed if Dell stopped there because I think there are a growing number of enterprise CIOs and corporate executives who would be very interested in offloading, or ‘out-tasking’, portions of their internal data center requirements to a Dell-powered ‘cloud computing’ service.

By offering a cloud computing service, Dell not only creates a new revenue stream but also provides a showplace where corporate customers can see Dell’s computing power at work.

Dell has already made it clear that it wants to redefine the IT services market by building service functionality into its computers and automating many other aspects of traditional support and consulting services. Dell has also made a series of acquisitions to achieve this vision, including EqualLogic, Everdream and SilverBack Technologies.

Just as the overall cloud computing industry has evolved from the success of the SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] movement, Dell has an opportunity to extend its technology capabilities and brand equity into the clouds by leveraging its new functionality and corporate history as a business innovator to respond to customers’ growing receptivity to cloud computing services.