The cloud computing strategies at Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM have a common thread. It's called OpenStack -- the open source cloud platform. The VAR Guy therefore asks an obvious question: Is OpenStack a path forward for hardware resellers that are seeking to develop public and private cloud services strategies? Hmmm...

First, here's a bunch of background. Within the next two months or less, Hewlett-Packard is expected to unveil the HP Cloud -- which will compete with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Windows Azure. Meanwhile, IBM quietly in joined the OpenStack effort in February 2012, though no major announcement was made. And Dell has been an OpenStack proponent since 2010.

Now here's the twist: Thousands of Dell, HP and IBM resellers -- especially server resellers -- have yet to master recurring revenue business models. Thousands more are still sorting out their public and private cloud strategies. That reality was in the spotlight last week, during an HP-Axcient cloud road show in New York, where roughly 100 VARs will trying to understand where cloud storage potentially fit into their short-list of business opportunities.

For those server and hardware resellers, OpenStack could provide a two-part springboard into cloud computing. For starters, many server makers are starting to promote OpenStack as an ideal platform for building private clouds. Moreover, a growing number of cloud services providers -- most notably Rackspace and the HP Cloud -- are adhering to OpenStack as part pf their public cloud strategies.

The lesson for hardware resellers: In theory, you'll be able to move your customers' applications seamlessly between private and public clouds -- assuming the clouds are built atop OpenStack. That potential reality could allow server resellers to continue generating IT project revenue from on-premises and co-location deals, and perhaps even recurring revenues by working with OpenStack-compliant cloud services providers.

Of course, The VAR Guy is getting a bit ahead of himself. IBM hasn't said much about its OpenStack support just yet. And the HP Cloud, leveraging OpenStack, has yet to be officially unveiled. Of the major server makers, Dell has the most complete OpenStack story so far. But even there, The VAR Guy hasn't heard from any Dell partners that are building private clouds using OpenStack.

Still, The VAR Guy has a hunch that OpenStack will catch on with hardware resellers -- especially those that are seeking an open, viable way to build private clouds while potentially countering Amazon Web Services in the public cloud.