Everyone knows that public cloud is a disruptive force in the world of enterprise IT. Amazon showed us (and Google, and Microsoft, and others) that it’s possible, desirable, and cost-effective. Moving basic services, processes, and workloads to a public cloud provider happens hundreds of times a day.

I use Amazon myself for essential services because, largely, it does what it says on the box. Yes, folks worry about security, performance, and especially risk. Amazon’s crash last year caused massive anxiety and frustration — but as far as I can tell, it hasn’t hurt adoption. Piles and piles of business services are happily humming along on the public cloud.

Many IT companies — including legacy ones like Microsoft — are getting in on the act by building their own public clouds. IBM has theirs, HP has theirs. It seems like having public cloud capability has become table stakes for being an IT company.

Then a major IT vendor announced a few days ago that they’re closing down their own public cloud capability. They’re swimming against the tide. Why?

I think the answer is choice.

Most businesses have data center infrastructure. They naturally want to use it for as long as they can. After all, they invested in it, and they want to recoup investment. And they know that migration to new technologies — like public cloud — is fraught with risk.

So rather than doing a rip and replace, migrating all workloads to a public cloud, they’re trying to drive data center efficiency, versatility, reliability. At most, they want to use public cloud to augment their existing capabilities. Adding new workloads, gradual migration, handling spikes, backup, that sort of thing.

That’s all well and good. But there are a LOT of public clouds out there. So if you are a major IT vendor, and have 10,000 or so customers, all of which buy data center infrastructure, you want to help them leverage their choices by enabling them to use ANY public cloud to augment their capabilities.

Sure, you’ll have recommendations, even preferred public cloud partnerships if your customers haven’t made a choice yet. You can become a trusted adviser and assistant for customers by helping them get maximum benefit — without barriers — from any public cloud.

You also help out by buying technologies that help customers link and manage their data center workloads with their public cloud workloads.

And by doing so, you hope they’ll keep buying servers, storage, networking, and services from you.

Let’s face it, no organization can do everything. Nobody beats up Google or Amazon for not selling Fibre Channel storage arrays or 4 socket servers. Organizations have to pick and choose their battles. And it seems that at least one IT vendor decided that, rather than owning a public cloud, it’s better to help customers use ANY public cloud.

Nice move, Dell.

(Note: I have had past consulting relationships with Dell).