Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) hinted it was getting into the cloud storage-as-a-service business by teaming up with Nirvanix, a cloud storage service provider that recently teamed up with TwinStrata to launch a cloud storage starter kit.

Dell Services tweeted to the world it was getting into the petabyte public cloud storage space with Nirvanix. According to Dell's website, the new Dell Cloud Storage with Nirvanix service, which it is marketing as storage-as-a-service, is a public, multi-tenant cloud storage offering that enables "the integration of internet accessible storage into third-party storage processes."

This is a big move for Dell, which has been evolving more and more toward becoming a services and solutions provider. It's the first time the company has shifted its storage offerings truly into the cloud services market. The gauntlet against its traditional storage competitors, as well as the likes of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Web Services, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Azure, has been thrown down.

The service is subscription-based, with a one-time startup fee. It provides customers with the ability to store up to four active customer copies on Nirvanix cloud infrastructure. Dell and Nirvanix tag-team the management side, with Dell managing the customer experience and Nirvanix managing just about everything else -- infrastructure, onboarding, maintenance, support and operational service levels.

Dell's entrance into this market was a bit quiet for the technology giant. No press release or formal announcement except for a mention on the Dell Service Twitter account, which pointed to a page containing a PDF outlining the service offering.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told Talkin' Cloud the impact on the channel will likely be limited unless Nirvanix's own partners were somehow displaced. That's unlikely, he noted.

"There's also the possibility that one or another of Nirvanix's partners will be so taken with the quality of the storage cloud that it buys the company outright," King said. "Should that happen it would, as has happened in similar past circumstances, significantly reorder all of Nirvanix's existing partnerships, including those in the channel."

With a previous OEM relationship with IBM and now this partnership with Dell, Nirvanix "is on its way to becoming something of a cloud storage platform of choice for businesses that would prefer to engage a vendor who's received a seal of approval from one trusted vendor or another," King said.