Dell Inc. (DELL) Clears The Decks To Buy Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (RAX)

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Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) has given up on its own OpenStack cloud and says it will now re-sell cloud services based on partners’ software.

At the same time, its buyout proposal seems stalled. The company is working through a competing proposal from Carl Icahn. The committee running the auction is now asking Icahn for information, in a move that sounds like stalling for time.

But that doesn’t make much sense, given that uncertainty surrounding the buyout has helped create a profit implosion. For the quarter ending May 5 Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) earned just $226 million on sales of $14 billion, its losses in PCs partly offset by a gain in “enterprise solutions and services” of 12%.

All these moving parts should point speculators to an obvious solution.

Buy Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX).

The Case for Rackspace

Rackspace is the largest host of OpenStack services, it has more contributors to the open source cloud infrastructure than anyone else. And it’s located just down I-35 from Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), in San Antonio. When the highway is jammed, there’s a new toll road alternative.

Best of all, Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX) is a relative bargain. The stock price fell off a proverbial cliff after a bad quarterly report for December, and things haven’t gotten any better. Top-line growth has stalled, and the bottom line has nosed downward. Debt levels, on the other hand, are down significantly.

Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL)Isn’t this a huge risk for Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL)? Isn’t OpenStack dying for the same reason Dell abandoned it, price pressure from Amazon.Com and its Amazon Web Services offering? Isn’t this an impossible place in which to make a buck, given that Google  and Microsoft have both committed to matching Amazon’s low, low prices?

Maybe. But Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX) isn’t alone on the OpenStack train. Hewlett-Packard remains committed to the technology. So does IBM.

And the fact is, the global race toward cloud has only just begun. Most of Amazon’s capacity is in a single data center, located in Virginia. The next step in cloud will be the creation of multiple, redundant data centers, spread around the world, something Google already uses for its own services.

Many companies in other countries have also been reluctant to commit to cloud because of local laws. Switzerland, for instance, demands that data about Swiss citizens stay in Switzerland. Other countries have similar laws. Clouds that can do governance barely exist yet.

These clouds are far more likely to emerge on OpenStack than on any other cloud infrastructure. IBM is committed to solving this problem. Its solutions will go into the commons. Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE:RAX) has access to that commons.

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