Can small cloud services providers compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services? It seems Dell and OnApp believe so. The two companies have joined forces to pool technologies and products to create "cloud business in a box" packages for service providers that want to build their own public or private cloud platforms.

The reason for these packages? Simple, really. The packages are meant to be easy, ready-to-implement clouds that are pre-tested to provide a complete virtual infrastructure for public and private clouds. In addition to the infrastructure piece, there's also fully-managed installation of the OnApp Cloud platform with racks, servers, networking and storage from Dell.

It's unlikely the packages are as easy to set up as taking it out of the box and plugging it in, but a simplification of the process for building a cloud services platform could go a long way towards enabling both existing and future providers. It may be difficult to go toe-to-toe with the big guys, but by catering to geographic or vertical markets, or by focusing on customers not happy with what the top dogs offer, a cloud services provider could carve out a nice business based on the Dell/OnApp kits.

To kick things off, Dell and OnApp will provide three bundles, each of which containing a different storage option -- OnApp Storage SAN, Dell EqualLogic iSCSI and Dell Compellent fibre channel.

"At Dell we've always believed in the power of technology of help organizations of every size, location and industry do more," said Paul Brook, program manager at Dell, in a prepared statement. "To accomplish this, over the last three years we've undergone a company-wide transformation. In the process, we've accelerated the transition from being a vendor that delivers efficient and inexpensive 'boxes' to a partner that provides solutions addressing the end-to-end needs and shifting priorities of our customers."

OnApp has built its business on helping channel firms become IaaS providers. An England-based company, it expanded significantly in the U.S. market last year. It has also continued to fill out its cloud platform portfolio. Last march, it launched the previously-mentioned OnApp Storage, a cloud-oriented storage platform aimed at cloud services providers.