Thousands of customers, channel partners and industry leaders flocked to the virtual Dell Technologies World Digital Experience conference Wednesday as the US$92 billion infrastructure giant unveiled its new as-a-service strategy: Project Apex.
“It is both an internal and external vision that is essentially the flag we’re planting in the ground on where we’re going from a technology and solutions standpoint for Dell over the coming years,” said Sam Grocott, senior vice president of product marketing at Dell Technologies. “This is directionally where we’re going with the portfolio to bring our solutions together and allow us to simplify not only how we message and deliver these solutions to customers, but even internally—this is a transformation across the company. This is how we sell products, how we market products, how we build products, how we finance products—the whole end-to-end value chain is moving toward Project Apex.”
Dell Technologies World 2020 was initially scheduled to take place in Las Vegas in May 2020 but was changed to a digital event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two-day Dell Technologies World Digital Experience virtual event kicked off Wednesday.
CRN USA breaks down the eight biggest launches and announcements at Dell Technologies World. Partners will be able to sell these offerings to customers and provide their own services as well.
By 2024, more than 75 percent of infrastructure at the edge and over 50 percent of all data center infrastructure will be consumed as a service, according to research firm IDC.
Project Apex aims to simplify how customers and partners access Dell’s as-a-service capabilities across storage, servers, networking, hyperconverged infrastructure, PCs and architectural offerings. It will unify the company’s as-a-service and cloud strategies, technology offerings and go-to-market efforts, providing a consistent experience wherever a workload runs including on-premises, at the edge or in public clouds.
Project Apex is Dell Technologies’ “north star” that it will be striving toward internally and externally to align to the as-a-service IT world, said Grocott.
“Project Apex is our strategy to deliver a radically simplified as-a-service and cloud experience to our customers and partners. This will allow us to bring together not only our external message in how we communicate our offers as we go forward, but also internally in how we align and transform to delver this as-a-service experience across all the various functions across Dell Technologies. It’s a unifying effort,” he said.
New cloud console
Arguably one of the most significant launches at Dell Technologies World as part of Project Apex is the new Dell Technologies Cloud Console. The console provides customers with a single, self-service online interface to manage every aspect of their cloud and as-a-service strategy.
“Customers will be able to browse a marketplace, choose which cloud products and services and solutions they want, then actually order and transact an as-a-service solution for their business,” said Dell Technologies’ Grocott. “Our customers are also going to be able to deploy workloads and manage multi-cloud resources, they’re going to be able to monitor their costs in real time and add cloud and as-a-service solutions with just a few clicks.”
The Dell Technologies Cloud Console is available now as a public preview in the U.S. with general availability expected in the first half of 2021.
‘The big storage easy button’: storage as a service
The first as-a-service offering of Project Apex is the new Dell Technologies Storage as a Service. The offering is an on-premises as-a-service portfolio of scalable and elastic storage resources that will offer block and file data services and a broad rage of enterprise-class features.
“This is a fully turnkey on-premise managed service by Dell Technologies or a channel partner,” said Grocott. “Customers are going to be able to scale up and down via the Cloud Console their Storage as a Service if their workloads grow or shrink. They’ll be able to optimize that environment very, very quickly and easily.”
When customers want to deploy Dell Technologies Storage as a Service, they will enter Dell’s new Cloud Console online interface to select what type of data service they are looking for—such as file, block or object; pick their desired amount of performance or capacity; and then choose a term length. The turnkey Storage as-a-Service offer enables customers to pay for what they use and boosts Opex flexibility.
“We really think this is going to redefine and set the bar for on-premises as-a-service experiences,” said Grocott. “Many customers are really looking for the big storage easy button. This really delivers on that.”
Dell Technologies Storage as a Service will be available in the US in the first half of calendar year 2021.
Dell Technologies cloud platform: new US$47 per-instance pricing
The Dell Technologies Cloud Platform is the company’s flagship turnkey hybrid cloud architecture that includes VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure and VMware Cloud Foundation.
At Dell Technologies World, the company has made cloud compute resources accessible with a new instance-based offering that lowers the barrier of entry for the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform and extends subscription availability.
Dell Technologies Cloud Platform customers can now get started with hybrid cloud for as low as US$47 per instance per month with subscription pricing. The instance-based offering makes it easier to buy and scale cloud resources with predefined configurations through Dell’s new Cloud Console.
“This is really going to simplify how customers size, order and deploy on-premises cloud resources, aligning their experience with the public cloud compute offers,” said Grocott. “For example, if they’re deploying a virtual desktop or a VDI environment, they’re going to select the accelerator to optimize VDI instance type. Then how much capacity they want and what term they want. This means they can easily self-service and guide themselves through making the right choice for whatever business outcome they’re looking for with a set of easy to choose, preconfigured hybrid cloud solutions that are going to align to their enterprise workloads.”
Grocott said customers will no longer guess how many nodes or storage arrays they’ll need to run their environment. “They’re going to focus more on their workload requirements. This is delivered with a single price,” he said.
The Dell Technologies Cloud Platform instance-based offering with subscription pricings is now available in the US, France, Germany and the UK.
Preconfigured pricing for Flex On Demand
Dell is expanding preapproved pricing for its pay-per-use Flex On Demand financial program from Dell Financial Services, which spans across the company’s storage, server, networking, data protection, cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure portfolio.
“With this launch, our goal is to simplify the procurement and ordering for customers with predefined configurations that are based on our most popular offers. So configurations include everything from the hardware, the system software, essential deployment capabilities and support services, while still giving them the flexibility and choice to customize because one size doesn’t fit all,” said Dell’s Grocott. “So you can get everything wrapped up together but you get to choose whether you want PowerMax or if you want PowerStore or PowerScale, etc. It gives you choice and flexibility but then bundles it all easily together for customers.”
The new preconfigured price offering is also available for channel partners to resell.
“We see this as a big stepping stone to our cloud and as-a-service offers like Storage as a Service,” Grocott said.
Increased flex on demand rebates: up to 20 percent for partners
Akanksha Mehrotra, vice president of marketing for Dell Technologies On Demand and services, told CRN USA that channel partners who leverage Flex On Demand will be eligible to receive a rebate of up to 20 percent of the deal.
“We’re announcing an increase in a front-end rebate that partners are going to be eligible for. It’s up to 20 percent of the committed contract value on our storage, data protection offers. On the server side it’s up to 10 percent. So it’s a pretty lucrative option for partners,” said Mehrotra. “Our hope is the combination of the preapproved pricing, the broad portfolio that it covers and the profit will help our channel partners drive traction with these solutions.”
Cloud PowerProtect for multi-cloud
At the Dell Technologies World Digital Experience conference Wednesday, Dell unveiled a fully managed service that helps customers protect their data and applications across public clouds via a low latency connection to the public cloud with Dell Technologies Cloud PowerProtect for Multi-Cloud.
Dell said businesses save costs through Dell’s PowerProtect appliance’s deduplication technology and will generate additional savings with zero egress fees when retrieving their data from Microsoft Azure.
Dell Technologies Cloud PowerProtect for Multi-cloud service is now available in the US, UK and Germany.
Project Apex’s future: new as-a-service offerings
Although Dell’s Storage as-a-Service offering is the first launch as part of Project Apex, Dell said it will build new as-a-service releases around a slew of technologies including PC as a Service.
“We’ll continue to layer on horizonal capabilities around Compute as a Service, Data Protection as a Service and PC as a Service in the coming months. So we’re going to scale out our as-a-service offers across the entire portfolio,” said Grocott.
In addition, Dell will go after specific vertical as-a-service use cases as well.
“So look for solutions such as SAP as a Service or VDI as a Service that will start to come out as well over time,” said Grocott.