Dell is launching a new offering of managed storage, server, and hyper-converged infrastructure that can be deployed in a company's own data centre, at edge locations or in colocation facilities, and enterprises pay for capacity as needed.
Dubbed Dell APEX, it includes storage, cloud services, and a console for streamlined management. The launch coincides with the kick-off of Dell Technologies World 2021, which is being held virtually this year.
Pay-per-use hardware models such as Dell APEX and HPE GreenLake are designed to deliver cloud-like pricing structures and flexible capacity to private data centres. The concept of pay-per-use hardware isn't new, but the buzz around it is growing. Enterprises are looking for alternatives to buying equipment outright for workloads that aren't a fit for public cloud environments.
Research firm IDC reports that 61 per cent of enterprises plan to aggressively shift toward paying for infrastructure on a consumption basis. By 2024, half of data centre infrastructure will be consumed as a service, IDC predicts.
According to Gartner, uptake so far is strongest in storage. In 2024, half of newly deployed storage capacity will be consumed as a service, Gartner anticipates. On the server side, 5.6 per cent of on-premises x86 server spending will be consumed as a service in 2024.
Customers are drawn to private clouds for reasons such as risk mitigation, faster performance, and cost containment, and they're drawn to public clouds for the chance to simplify their operations and increase their agility, said Sam Grocott, senior vice president, business unit marketing, at Dell.
"What is abundantly clear is that both the private cloud and public cloud have their strengths, yet there are always trade-offs to be made," Grocott said in a briefing with press. "It's really up to us to help bridge this divide for them, offering the best of both worlds, and deliver it in the consumption model that they seek."
What's in Dell APEX
Among the benefits of a consumption-based model is the opportunity for enterprises to better align infrastructure costs with usage. It also can allow companies to reduce the time and complexity of acquiring, managing, and servicing physical IT infrastructure.
With APEX, the infrastructure is managed by Dell and can be deployed in a company's own data centr, at edge locations, or in colocation facilities.
The first new offering from Dell is APEX Data Storage Services. Companies can choose from three performance tiers of block and file storage (object storage is coming at a later date). Dell offers one- or three-year subscriptions, and capacity starts as low as 50 terabytes.
Once customers choose the type of storage, performance tier, base capacity, subscription term, and deployment location, "That's all there is to it," said Akanksha Mehrotra, vice president of APEX, at Dell. "We will take it from this point forward and deliver, manage and support the resources that our customers want, in the location of their choice, and we will also maintain a buffer on site for any unanticipated needs."
Customers can scale up and down within that buffer so that they can respond dynamically to changing business needs, Mehrotra said.
"They're going to pay for what they're using at a single rate, with no surge pricing and no overage penalties. It's truly an outcome-based way to procure technology for their data center as easily as you would be provisioning resources in a public cloud," she said.
Also new to Dell's consumption-based line-up are APEX Cloud Services, which consist of integrated, on-premises compute, storage, networking and virtualisation resources. APEX Cloud Services support both cloud-native and traditional workloads, and they're designed to deliver a consistent experience across public cloud, private cloud and the edge, Mehrotra said.
"It's for customers who are looking for infrastructure to help bridge the gap between resources on-premises and those in public cloud, to help meet the needs of their applications in a multi-cloud world," she said. "Customers can subscribe to either a private cloud or hybrid cloud offer, depending on the level of control they need and the operational consistency that they desire."
When deploying APEX Cloud Services, customers select four parameters: offer type (private cloud or hybrid cloud); instance type (compute optimised, general purpose, accelerator optimised, memory optimised, or large-scale memory optimised); instance quantity (25, 50, 100, 200, or 500 instances); and subscription term (12 or 36 months).
"It's that simple, and we'll take it from there. The solution is delivered and deployed in 14 days and can be expanded in as few as five," Mehrotra said.
Dell also unveiled a pair of APEX Custom Solutions that aim to give enterprise IT teams the tools to create their own on-demand, as-a-service offerings. The first is APEX Flex On Demand, which provides Dell servers, storage, data protection, and hyper-converged infrastructure in a flexible, consumption-based model.
Users can select the product and services they want and scale their usage of these resources up and down while paying for what they use, according to Dell. The second offering, APEX Data Center Utility, adds the flexibility to do custom metering and offer managed services.
Anchoring the management of Dell's entire as-a-service portfolio is APEX Console.
The self-service console lets enterprises identify and subscribe to APEX services, and it provides ongoing management and analytics tools. IT teams can monitor the health and performance of APEX resources, access usage and spending reports, and refine their APEX services as business needs change.
"It's all available in one place, and it's self-service. We believe it will become an important way for us and our partners to interact with our customers over time," Mehrotra said.
Partners with Equinix to extend APEX to colocation sites
To give customers greater deployment flexibility, Dell is collaborating data centre provider Equinix, which operates more than 220 data centers spanning five continents.
Through the partnership, Dell will manage the infrastructure, deployed in an Equinix data centre that a customer chooses, and will consolidate colocation costs in a single bill. Customers will be able to use the APEX Console to provision APEX services at select Equinix locations, according to Dell.
Adds to edge-computing line-up
On the edge-computing front, Dell is announcing new products and services designed to help enterprises cull more value from data at the edge.
New to the line-up is Dell's Manufacturing Edge Reference Architecture with PTC. The software is designed to help manufacturing companies derive insights from workstations, computers, mobile devices and other endpoints within the manufacturing environment. With access to edge data in one place, companies can increase production line reliability, reduce operational costs and make more informed real-time decisions, according to Dell.
Newly upgraded is Dell EMC Streaming Data Platform, which captures, stores and analyzes streaming data in real-time at the edge. The new version features a smaller footprint.
Dell also is highlighting its work with Duos Technologies, a technology company that uses Dell hardware and services at the edge to speed railcar inspections. Duos Technologies created the Railcar Inspection Portal, a drive-through structure that's powered by ruggedised Dell EMC PowerEdge servers and Dell EMC PowerVault storage arrays.
The traditional inspection process takes an average of eight minutes per railcar. The Duos portal can inspect more than 120 railcars, moving at full speed, in eight minutes.