Dell EMC tinkers with cloud-enabled infrastructure solutions portfolio

There were few – actually no – major Dell EMC new product announcements made around their cloud infrastructure portfolio at VMworld. There were a lot of little ones, however, as well as some overarching messaging about focus and strategy.

Sam Grocott, SVP Marketing, for Dell EMC ISG

At VMWorld, Dell EMC has announced a cornucopia of announcements relating to different elements of their cloud-enabled infrastructure solutions portfolio. None of the announcements by itself will turn many heads. There were no big new products, or even little new products being announced, although there were quite a few enhancements.  The items of most interest to the channel will likely be a new commitment to tie VxRail updates to the VMware vSAN software that powers it, as well as some significant updates to Data Domain Virtual Edition. However, while there were no big announcements, there were quite a lot of them. There was also a message – to emphasize the overall force of innovation within Dell Technologies cloud solutions, on many fronts.

“The theme is the collective investment in innovation across the core, to the edge to the cloud, looking holistically at it all,” said Sam Grocott, SVP Marketing, for Dell EMC ISG. “It’s about our cloud strategy – and the news underneath it.”

Grocott explained Dell EMC’s analysis of what customers today want from the cloud and their vendor partners, and how they have designed their strategy to fit those perceptions.

“Customers and partners are now taking on two or three cloud vendors, not one,” he said “Gartner reported that developing a multi-cloud strategy was the top enterprise customer challenge in 2018. They are looking for vendors and partners to really help deliver solutions that meet a multi-cloud environment.”

That multi-cloud preference was prompted by the need to manage different workloads with cloud flexibility that can best manage specific applications and data.

“IDC found that only 28 per cent of customers planned to have a single cloud,” he said. “85 per cent planned to repatriate some things in the cloud back to on-prem. As a result, customers need to plan for dynamic workloads that move on and off prem.”

That outlook has major implications for what customers now want from cloud infrastructure solution vendors.

“Customers want a partner that provides a consistent operating environment, and a consistent experience on-prem and off-prem,’ he said. “The most important benefit is the ability to evaluate the application that is right for each cloud, and be able to change them back and forth without changing the operating environment. We think we have a big opportunity to be that trusted advisor and help customers along their journey.”

The Dell EMC cloud strategy was designed around this, and has four pillars: cloud platforms built on HCI systems; cloud enabled infrastructure; a comprehensive set of enterprise consulting and services; and a wide variety of cloud consumption choices.

In the cloud platform space, several announcements were made.

“We will now have near synchronous releases with VxRail and VMware vSAN, which will increase time to adoption,” Grocott said. “We will be in sync with VMware within 30 days of VMware updating their software stack, and have that available to our customers.”

Grocott said that they are also added distributed multi zone architectures and multi-region deployments with DR to VMware validated designs for VxRail, and expanded options with new VMware software-defined data centre approved designs based on jointly developed best practices between Dell EMC and VMware Cloud Services

“We are also now including VXRail in our Fabric Design Centre, an online tool to help streamline network design customization and configuration, which will lead to faster production and better interoperability,” Grocott said.

On the VxRack front, Grocott said that it would now support the new 2.3.2 version of the VMware Cloud Foundation software.

“We also now support full configuration-to-order options, covering thousands of possible configurations for unmatched flexibility,” he said.

Within the cloud-enabled infrastructure bucket, the second pillar of the cloud infrastructure strategy , the big news was the enhancements in Data Domain Virtual Edition, version 4.0.

“This is a major announcement, enhancing it both on-prem and in the cloud,” Grocott said. “We have expanded hypervisor support to include KVM, which is now the third major hypervisor supported. We have also dramatically increased the amount of storage that can be managed, up to 96 TB raw from 16 TB in the past.” Other enhancements in this segment include Dell EMC Cloud Snapshot Manager adding protection for Microsoft Azure, and VMware vCloud Director introducing a new data protection extension that now enables cloud service providers to offer an integrated VMware and Data Protection self-service solution to customers.

In the Cloud Data Services segment, the most important news is the enhancements to the Dell EMC Unity VSA Cloud Edition for both block and file storage

“This is our newest offering, a full-featured software-defined version of our Unity [midmarket storage] product that can be run in the cloud,” Grocott said. “The Unity Cloud edition provides the same unified storage experience of Unity, with the same look and feel as on-prem. We have improved ease of use and ease of deployment in delivering enterprise file services, with cloud-based flexible tiering for TestDev to the AWS cloud without additional platforms. This is truly a hybrid cloud-consistent experience, and we are very excited to be launching this into the market.”

The cloud control bucket is the CloudIQ SaaS predictive analytics offering.

“We have made some major enhancements to it,” Grocott said. “We have expanded its storage platform support. Historically, it just supported Unity, and now we have expanded this to other Dell EMC storage – five in all – SC, PowerMax, VMAX, and XtremIO, and it will eventually cover all storage products in the future.” It also adds new VMware integration that provides VM level insights for further depth, and mobile app support for iPhone and Android.”

Cloud consumption models were enhanced with the addition of AWS support for Data Domain Cloud Tier, a new version of Data Domain Cloud DR with three-click failovers, and adding support for Azure snapshot management to Cloud Snapshot Manager.

“We have also introduced a new version of Elastic Cloud Storage that has significant improvements in capacity and compute,” Grocott said. “It now starts as small as 60 TB, down from 400 TB before. That’s over an 80 per cent reduction in starting capacity point. We see an opportunity to go down into smaller Object Store environments.”

Finally, the Dell EMC Future-Proof warranty program has been expanded.

“VxRail is new to the program, and we have also added the cloud consumption model into that program, to provide investment protection over time,” Grocott said.