Dell expands APEX portfolio with major new offerings and partnerships

Dell makes some major announcements around their as-a-service portfolio, including bringing their Project Alpine previews from last year out as projects, in what they are saying brings the whole APEX strategy to fruition.

Today, Dell Technologies World kicked off with a series of  announcements around their APEX as-a-service portfolio, involving new partnerships to extend their cloud presence with the three major hyperscalers, public cloud storage software, client devices and compute.

“We have a ton of announcements which are really exciting, building on what we had started talking about last year, at Dell Technologies World,” said Caitlin Gordon, Vice President, Product Management at Dell Technologies. The way to think about these announcements is really as the evolution of our APEX strategy, and really paying off what we’ve been talking about over the last few years. Ultimately what we’re talking about here is, how do we help our customers move from this world of multi-cloud by default that we continue to hear from our customers, where they have multiple different partners and multiple contracts with different cloud providers on-prem public cloud. And how do we move that into a world truly more of a multi-cloud by design? What that actually means is providing that simplified cloud experience.”

Gordon said that the first part is all about what we call our ‘ground to cloud strategy.’

“That’s all about bringing Dell IP, which traditionally has been delivered in purpose-built appliances in our storage and our data protection portfolio to software that runs in general-purpose instances of the cloud and enabling our customers to have more flexibility to use that best to breed software,” she noted. “We started with data protection. And now we’re expanding into storage in the cloud.”

The big news in ground to cloud was actually announced last year as Project Alpine.

“It is very exciting that we now officially this year move from Project Alpine to the products. and specifically a whole new category of products called APEX Storage for public cloud,” Gordon said.

In addition to this bringing Dell software defined storage to the public clouds, Dell also provides operational simplicity with a unified approach to Dell cloud storage and Kubernetes management. The first includes Dell APEX Block Storage for Amazon Web Services, Dell APEX Block Storage for Microsoft Azure and Dell APEX File Storage for AWS.”

“We’re starting with block and file, and also welcoming data protection to that same family,” Gordon said. “APEX block storage. is really about extreme performance, linear scalability, and some things that are very differentiated from some of the native storage services in the public cloud. For example, the architecture itself provides multi-availability zone durability. So you can truly have that resilience that you’re used to in the data centre and bring that to the cloud. Ultimately that unlocks the ability to bring workloads that you never could have before from the data centre to the public cloud.”

This is available for AWS now, and for Azure coming later this year.

Gordon said that native file storage services don’t provide the scale, resiliency and  performance that they’re used to in the data center. And as more and more customers try to take advantage of things like analytic workloads in the public cloud, they’re seeing that the file storage is not keeping up with what they need. And that’s really the process of what we built with the APEX File storage. It provides up to four times better right performance, than its closest competitor. You have seamless data mobility on-prem to the public cloud. And again, that availability is also available now.”

Dell has had their data protection software in the public cloud for years, now encompassing over 17 exabytes of data across 1,700 different companies in the public cloud.

“So we’re very excited with this announcement to welcome this data protection software into the APEX storage for Public Cloud family with the APEX storage family,” Gordon emphasized. “It provides immutability for ransomware protection, and true efficiency which drives really compelling TCO in the public cloud.

So we’ve seen a lot of early adoption in the protection space, and we’re excited to now bring both block and file storage to the public cloud as well.”

The last piece of ground to cloud, Gordon said, was how do we provide that great experience that customers now expect in the public cloud. and that’s where APEX Navigator comes in.

“APEX Navigator is two new software offers within the APEX console,” Gordon noted. “APEX Navigator for multi-cloud storage is truly the experience of all of those APEX for public cloud storage assets, so any storage type from Dell or any of the public clouds. This is where you will drive the deployment, the mobility, and the monitoring of those assets in a really simple and seamless experience.”

The second new solution here, which Gordon termed a sibling to the APEX navigator for multi-class storage, is the APEX Navigator for Kubernetes.

“There’s more and more production workloads being run in containerized environments, which means customers need persistent storage for those workloads,” Gordon said. “The challenge has been, how do you get more of the advanced data services, whether it’s replication or encryption, application, or mobility for that persistent storage and Kubernetes. So we’ve had a number of different ways to provide this over the last few years with our CSI drivers, and our container storage modules for more of those advanced data services. What we really wanted to do with this though is support that at scale, while simplifying that experience overall. And that’s really what APEX Navigator for Kubernetes is. It provides everything from that cloud. Native application, mobility, the automated discovery and deployment of those assets, and providing those more advanced data services for customers using Dell storage in any one of a variety of different leading Kubernetes distributions.”

The cloud to ground strategy, on the other hand, is really the inverse of ground to cloud.

“It’s bringing those cloud operating environments, those cloud operating models from the different cloud providers into the data centre for our customers and simplifying that experience,” Gordon said. “It’s bringing those cloud operating environments, those cloud operating models from the different cloud providers, into the data center for our customers and simplifying that experience.”

This is what Dell calls the APEX cloud platform.

“Ultimately these APEX cloud platforms are all about providing customers choice of their operating environment,” Gordon said. “We are working with three different cloud partners here. Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware, and enabling them to choose where they want that deployed and which partner they want to deploy with. But it’s also truly built first for that horizontal consistency. So you have common hardware platforms built on PowerEdge, software built on PowerFlex technology and common automated management and orchestration for the entire stack from the firmware all the way up to the cloud operating system for each one of these partners. That means it’s a consistent experience for any one of these stacks.”

Gordon said they had been working on the Apex Cloud platform for Microsoft Azure.

“We are really excited about this because it helps customers truly accelerate their app modernization,” she stated. “You can support all of the Arc enabled services in any data centre that you want and really be able to extend those Azure operations anywhere, seamlessly. The availability of this one will be in the second half of this year.”

Gordon said the APEX cloud platform for Red Hat OpenShift is all about working with the leading Kubernetes distribution.

“We have been collaboratively engineering together, and ultimately we are now able to simplify that Red Hat OpenShift experience, enabling that development environment in any data centre of choice and doing so quickly as possible.”

The APEX Cloud Platform for VMware is the final new APEX cloud platform.

“VMware continues to be a very important strategic part of our multi-cloud strategy,” Gordon said. “This one’s ultimately about enabling customers to have that native VMware management experience, but also be able to have the flexibility to use our industry leading software to find storage on the back end. So you have the ability to have that experience in that performance and that scale of our enterprise class storage. And yet you can keep that completely as a VMware management experience, because every one of these platforms is really engineered to be used natively in any one of these environments. Again the availability for these start in the second half of this year, and we do have an early access program available for VMware already available today.

“And then the last piece of this is really to pay off what we’ve been talking about for a long time with apex, which is our as a service and subscription portfolio,” Gordon said. “The last piece of the new portfolio is the continued evolution of our as-a-service and subscription offers, and we are welcoming two very important pieces.”

The first one is APEX Compute.

“It’s really all about simplifying the procurement process with that simple configuration,” Gordon said. “Through the APEX console you can get up and running, and can get that fast time to value for Dell compute. It’s pay-as-you-go, and more importantly, you can start small and grow bigger. You have your choice of hypervisor or OS, based on whatever workload you want to support. The availability of this will also be timed with the announcement.”

Gordon said that Dell is bringing the APEX experience to not just their desktop and laptops, but also some of the peripherals as well, with Dell APEX PC-as-a-Service.

“Some of the early adopters of the Help Desk required support, cost savings, and even less time for device onboarding as well,” she indicated. “We are now the world’s most comprehensive as a service and multi-cloud portfolio that spans from the data center to the public cloud, and now, even to client devices.

Availability, for this is also going to be timed with the announcement.