Dell Technologies is striving to become a multi-cloud leader by integrating more deeply with public cloud leaders, offering stand-alone software for public clouds and growing its Apex as-a-service portfolio and global footprint.
Dell Wednesday unveiled its multi-cloud vision with the launch of several new products aimed at giving customers a “true” multi-cloud experience that simplifies complexity and rolling out more consumption-based as-a-service offerings via Apex, said Dell Technologies’ Caitlin Gordon, vice president of product management.
“We have a really unique opportunity to help our customers deal with the reality of what multi-cloud actually means today. We are going to really double down and focus on the big themes of, ‘How do we deliver more software and services to our customers to simplify the experience? And how do we partner really strategically with a broad ecosystem of cloud partnerships like hyperscalers, ISVs like SAP and data center providers like Equinix?’” said Gordon in an interview with CRN.
“There is no single vendor that is going to solve all of these [multi-cloud] challenges. The more we can all work together to simplify our customers’ environments, the better it’s going to be for everyone. That’s really what you’ll hear us continue to focus on: software, services and the cloud ecosystem.”
On Wednesday, Dell unveiled the new Apex Multi-Cloud Data Services offering that provides file, block and data protection services for simultaneous access to all major public clouds from a single source of data. Dell also launched its new SaaS-based Apex Backup Services that provides end-to-end scalable, secure data protection with centralized monitoring and management for SaaS applications, endpoints and hybrid workloads.
Dell’s Apex Multi-Cloud Data Services, meanwhile, allows organizations to connect storage and data protection to preferred public clouds and services that helps avoid public cloud vendor lock-in, expensive egress fees and cloud data migration risks, according to Gordon.
“What you’re actually buying is both the storage service and the interconnect to the public clouds. So you have a high-speed, low-latency cloud connection to the major hyperscalers,” she said.
Gordon said Apex Backup Services is a “truly SaaS experience” built for protection in the cloud. “That includes SaaS applications like Office 365, Salesforce, Google Workspace. It allows you to also protect endpoints as well, so your desktops, laptops and mobile devices,” she said.
“There’s also some built-in ransomware protection in the software as well.”
Dell Wednesday also expanded its Apex Data Storage Services offer—launched in 2021—to 13 new countries across Europe and Asia-Pacific to allow more customers to deploy the Dell-managed Storage-as-a-Service offering. Also on the as-a-service front, Apex is now available via colocation services with Equinix, a data center provider giant with more than 220 centers across the globe.
Project Alpine: Dell separates storage software for the public cloud
Another big launch from Dell Wednesday, dubbed Project Alpine, brings Dell’s software IP for its block and file storage platforms to the major public cloud providers.
“Today, our flagship block and file storage platforms are predominantly consumed and purpose-built appliances. So what we’re doing is we’re actually taking that software that runs on those appliances, we’re abstracting that from the underlying purpose-built hardware that it runs on today to enable it to run on general-purpose instances in the cloud,” said Gordon.
Customers can purchase Dell’s storage software as a managed service using existing cloud credits.
Dell also expanded its support for Amazon EKS Anywhere to run on its flagship storage products, PowerStore and PowerFlex, which will enable customers to run their Kubernetes orchestration across public or on-premises clouds.
“The key to simplifying the reality of what a multi-cloud world has become for customers, which unfortunately is a multi-cloud by default world right now. We’re really aiming to help them get to a multi-cloud by design a reality,” said Gordon.
Channel opportunity with Apex
Dell’s Apex as-a-service portfolio is managed by Dell, meaning the company provides the deployment, management and life-cycle services on Apex deals. Dell’s new Apex Multi-Cloud Data Services offering will not be available for channel partners to resell when it officially launches later this month.
Gordon said Apex Multi-Cloud Data Services “is going to be something we will expand to channel partners for availability in the future,” with a target date of sometime later in 2022.
When asked about partners’ concerns that Dell Apex cuts out the channel’s ability to provide services to their customers, Gordon said “there’s an incredible amount of value-added services” partners can provide with Apex solutions.
“We absolutely want and need our reseller community to focus on Apex. And the idea that Dell is delivering all the services is certainly not our goal, nor our intent here. We’re offering Infrastructure as a Service, which is a very specific set of management capability that comes with that. But we know there’s a lot of value-add that our customers need that only our partners can provide,” said Gordon.
For example, she said Dell partners can provide migration services and consulting services.
“What we found with Apex for us and for our partners is it really enables you to go in and have a conversation with a customer that maybe you couldn’t before if you were trying to start with a storage appliance conversation,” Gordon said. “Having an Apex conversation means you’re talking about, ‘What are your business goals? How are you transforming?’ And then at the end of the day, you may sell them an Apex service—you may still sell them a storage appliance—but you’re starting a conversation at a higher level with these customers.”
Future Tech Enterprise’s Venero said he’s looking forward to seeing how Dell builds out its Apex portfolio.
“The more innovative and creative Dell can get with Apex—assuming they support the channel—the better it is for partners,” he said. “Apex gives partners another tool to win deals in our toolbox. The channel needs a strong as-a-service offering from Dell.”
Gordon touted Dell’s channel dedication in 2022 and beyond, saying channel partners account for more than 50 percent of Dell’s total order revenue.
“Partners are critical for us,” Gordon added. “That combination of Dell and our partners is really the way that we’re going to continue this great momentum we have coming out of this fiscal year and into the next fiscal year.”
Additional reporting by Steven Burke