Dell EMC expects to be the first OEM to bring Azure Stack to market on next-generation servers, and believes this offering will be a particularly strong one for channel partners.
Today Dell EMC is announcing the forthcoming availability of Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack on Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation [14G] servers, in what they believe will be the first availability of Azure Stack on Intel’s new Skylake processors. These will be available for order in November and are scheduled to ship in December. Dell EMC also believes that Azure Stack on 14G will be an exceptionally strong channel play.
In September at the Microsoft Ignite event. Dell EMC announced that they were shipping Azure Stack solutions on the 13G server platform, because of customer demand.
“Now we are announcing our second generation of Azure Stack based on the 14G platform,” said Paul Galjan, senior director of product management, Dell EMC Hybrid Cloud Solutions. “The idea here is that customers will notice a massive increase in density from our initial Azure Stack offering – up to a 153 per cent increase over the Broadwell platforms we announced earlier.”
Galjan also emphasized that Azure Stack on 14G is a hyper-converged offering, taking advantage of 14G’s being purpose-built for hyper-converged infrastructure.
“One of the other benefits of our second generation of Azure Stack, in addition to the increased density, is that it is geared to the lifecycle of hyper-converged infrastructure,” he said. “We created the Azure Stack as hyper-converged, and have made it a complete turnkey offering. Its deployment is automated. The updates as we validate new versions of Azure Stack monthly will be automated as well, in a complete turnkey fashion.
“We also have the benefit in hyper-converged of having been doing this for many years and being the market leader,” Galjan added. “We know what it takes to bring hyper-converged infrastructure to market. We know what the validation requirements are.”
Azure Stack on 14G is also very future-looking hyper-converged infrastructure, Galjan stressed.
“The ability to expand Azure Stack from four nodes to eight nodes isn’t there yet, but it’s something that Microsoft anticipates coming in 2018,” he said. “This gives customers a future-ready platform for Azure Stack when Microsoft supports that functionality.”
Similarly, an easy upgrade path from Azure Stack 13G to 14G will come to fruition in 2018 when Microsoft extends support for the necessary functionality.
“You will be able to put a 14G next to a 13G and migrate easily from one to the other once Microsoft facilitates that,” Galjan said. “That’s not yet there, but it will be in 2018.”
Galjan said that Azure Stack, which provides an Azure cloud-like environment for the datacentre, has strong market demand that has a strong channel applicability.
“Typical use cases are where a customer has a cloud-native workload, but where they can’t, for a number of reasons, put them into public cloud,” he said. “This includes regulated industries, and regulated geographies with data sovereignty rules, such as countries in Europe which aren’t large enough to have a full Azure region there. It also fits into environments that are completely disconnected from a network, as well as federal and intelligence use cases.
“There are other use cases where the data is not sensitive, data gravity keeps you from moving data to the cloud,” Galjan added. “This would be when you have an app that generates terabytes of data and you don’t have the network connectivity to get it into the public cloud or be able to analyze it there. Azure Stack works when you have these issues moving the data. So for these reasons, both Microsoft and ourselves don’t look on Azure Stack as something that is transitional until the customer moves fully to the cloud, but more as an end in itself.”
That enduring demand, and the Microsoft connection itself, should make this a very strong channel play.
“I think this is very highly applicable to our channel business,” Galjan said. “Microsoft is driving a lot of the innovation around Azure Stack, and Microsoft is an extremely channel-friendly company, with a lot of partners. Dell EMC is already focusing strongly on channel enablement. We already have training for partners to explain the value of Azure Stack to customers, and what we do specifically with it, compared to our competitors in the market. I think that as this technology matures, you will see a stronger and stronger channel role, not just in sales but in maintenance and layering other technologies on top.”
Galjan pointed out as well that Dell EMC partners who have built competencies around the Azure Cloud itself will be able to leverage them to Azure Stack.
“Many of our partners have built really good competencies around the public Azure Cloud,” he said. “These are in very large part directly applicable to Azure Stack.”
Dell Technologies has been stressing since its inception that they are now the only real one-stop shop that can provide all elements of a complex data centre solution, and Galjan said that is extremely relevant here..
“When partners look at who they decide to go to market with around Azure Stack, they will see the Dell EMC offer is very robust, allowing for differentiating and rounding out an offer in a way that would be difficult if they were stitching things together from a lot of different companies.”