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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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May 5, 2021 |

Dell Introduces As-a-Service Infrastructure and Cloud Portfolio

Called APEX, the new solutions seek to combine the flexibility and usage-based pricing of public cloud solutions with the security, performance, and control of private clouds.

Dell Technologies has officially launched APEX, a collection of managed infrastructure and cloud solutions that provide a foundation for the company’s “everything-as-a-service” strategy.

Introduced on day one of the virtual Dell Technologies World conference, which is taking place this week, and previewed at the last Dell Technologies World event in 2020, APEX aims to combine the flexibility and usage-based pricing of public cloud solutions with the security and control of private clouds.

“It’s the scale of the cloud with the ease of as a service,” said Jeff Clark, vice chairman and COO of Dell Technologies, in a keynote this morning. “This is the future of IT consumption.”

APEX’s initial offerings fall within three categories, starting with APEX Infrastructure Services. APEX Data Storage Services, the first of what will eventually be a more expansive set of infrastructure products, combines dynamically-scaled file or block storage with host hardware owned, managed, and maintained by Dell. Object storage will be available as well later this year.

“Dell manages the service on an ongoing basis from deployment to monitoring to operations to optimization and support,” said Travis Vigil, senior vice president of solutions and portfolio management in Dell’s Infrastructure Solutions Group, during a keynote this morning.

Available now in the U.S., the service includes a self-serve, point-and-click procurement and configuration interface designed to get new deployments in place quickly. “We’ll get you up and running in just 14 days,” Vigil said today.

The APEX Cloud Services family currently contains two offerings, both of which support traditional as well as cloud-native workloads. APEX Private Cloud combines Dell hardware with VMware software. APEX Hybrid Cloud allows organizations to extend private cloud functionality to locations without on-premises infrastructure. 

“Let’s say, for example, your organization is growing and you recently acquired a company in another part of the world,” Vigil said this morning. “Using APEX Hybrid Cloud as the foundation, you can quickly extend workloads like [virtual desktop infrastructure] to deploy virtual workspaces and get those employees up and running on day one.” Latency and logon response times for the Dell service will exceed what public cloud platforms can deliver, he promised.

The third family, called APEX Custom Solutions, gives buyers maximum flexibility to tailor as-a-service deals to specific needs. It includes Dell’s previously introduced Flex On Demand program, which lets businesses pay for servers, storage, data protection, and hyperconverged infrastructure on a per-use basis. A new service, named APEX Data Center Utility, adds custom metering and managed services as well.

Users can manage of all their APEX resources through the APEX Console, which includes lifecycle support for deployment, administration, optimization, and decommissioning. 

In a related deal announced today, Dell now offers hosted capacity for the APEX portfolio via an expanded alliance with co-located data center operator Equinix. That service, which is designed for organizations that don’t have or wish to maintain a data center of their own but also want to avoid public clouds, provides a single invoice from both Dell and Equinix.

Hosting solutions is one of several ways partners can profit from APEX, according to Akanksha Mehrotra, Dell’s vice president of APEX marketing. “They can take an advisory role and refer customers to our sales teams, and take advantage of lucrative incentives; they can host infrastructure workloads on behalf of their customers in a dedicated environment and build solutions on top of it; they can extend our offerings with their own value-added services; [and] they can resell our offers to extend their reach into new markets.”

Half of data center infrastructure will be consumed as a service by 2024, according to IDC. Much of those resources will be in public cloud environments like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, however. Indeed, while IDC projects spending on public cloud infrastructure to climb 16.7% this year to $52.7 billion, it expects outlays on private cloud infrastructure to decline 0.5% over the same period to $21.3 billion. 

Dell, however, continues to see strong demand for public cloud alternatives from customers with performance, security, and compliance concerns. “APEX provides flexibility and control that public clouds simply cannot,” says Sam Grocott, Dell’s senior vice president of marketing. “This means organizations can take charge of their own cyber resiliency and the physical security of their IT infrastructure.”

Unlike virtual instances in a public cloud, he continues, APEX resources are single tenant. “Infrastructure is actually dedicated to that customer’s use, and no other users, customers, or companies can leverage those systems at the same time.”

Unlike traditional data center gear, however, APEX solutions let companies pay only for the capacity they use and outsource day-to-day management. “This lets them focus less on managing infrastructure and more on innovating with their business,” Grocott says.

The same market analysis inspired Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s GreenLake as-a-service infrastructure offering, which gained support for bare metal infrastructure and new SMB-friendly virtual machine and container configurations in March. 

“We’re glad other vendors are recognizing the customer need for an as-a-service model to help accelerate digital transformation,” said Keith White, senior vice president and general manager of HPE GreenLake, in a media statement. “While HPE welcomes Dell’s entry into the as-a-service market, HPE made the pivot to address this customer need 3+ years ago and has been delivering on this vision.” GreenLake’s total contract value currently exceeds $4.5 billion, according to White.

Today’s launch, Grocott emphasizes, is an early step in what will be a much larger transition to everything as a service that will require changes to who the company hires, how it reports financial results, how it goes to market with partners, and much more.

“At the end of the day, with APEX we’re creating the new Dell, and everything’s got to transform to make that happen,” he says. “This is a multi-year journey for the company.”


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