IT management, CSPs, Enterprise, Content

Dell-as-a-Service: APEX Arrives to Counter HPE GreenLake, Cisco Plus

Cheryl Cook, SVP, Dell Technologies
Cheryl Cook, SVP, global channel, Dell Technologies

Dell Technologies, as expected, has unveiled a portfolio of "as-a-service" options that spans the company's servers, storage, data protection, hyperconverged infrastructure, and more.

The global everything-as-a-service push, known as Dell Technologies APEX, also includes managed services options to support customers and partners that choose to run Dell infrastructure in Equinix data centers worldwide. 

Dell first described the Project APEX strategy in October 2020. Fast forward to March 2021, and Dell Global Channel Senior VP Cheryl Cook described an accelerating trend to as-a-service consumption models. "APEX brings it all together under one initiative," she told ChannelE2E at the time.

In many ways, APEX reflects a push toward hardware as a service (HaaS) consumption models. But ultimately, the effort extends far beyond hardware to include various cloud-based management software, managed services options, and far more.

Roll it all together, and APEX essentially counters HPE GreenLake (on-premises cloud services) and Cisco Plus (network as a service and more), along with public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Dell APEX as-a-Service Portfolio: What Does It Include?

Dell APEX options will officially debut during Dell Technologies World 2021, a virtual event for partners and customers that runs May 5 and May 6. The official lineup includes:

  • APEX Data Storage Services;
  • APEX Cloud Services spanning public cloud, private cloud and edge solutions.
  • APEX Custom Solutions spanning servers, storage, data protection, and hyperconverged infrastructure (together known as APEX Flex On Demand) coupled with custom metering and managed services applied across customer data centers (known as APEX Data Center Utility).
  • APEX Console, which allows customers to manage their entire APEX lifecycle. Indeed, Dell customers can configure, order, monitor and make changes to their APEX services from that console.
Eric Schwartz, Equinix

Dell APEX-Equinix Partnership: Key partners include Equinix, a global provider of data centers, colocation centers and high-speed network interconnections. As part of the relationship, Dell is prepared to manage APEX infrastructure in an Equinix data center of a customer’s choice and will consolidate colocation costs in a single bill. Also, customers will be able to use the APEX Console to provision APEX services at select Equinix locations, Dell says.

In a prepared statement about the partnership, Eric Schwartz, chief strategy and development officer at Equinix, said:

"As companies continue to create more data, they want the ability to store and manage that data when and where they need it. Whether their data lives within a data center, at the edge or across public and private clouds, customers want more choice and greater flexibility in managing their hybrid IT infrastructure. By collaborating with Equinix, Dell Technologies can provide APEX Data Storage Services to support these customers’ hybrid multi-cloud requirements on a global scale.”

The Dell-Equinix relationship essentially gives Dell an on-demand and managed data center footprint alternative to public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Dell APEX vs HPE GreenLake and Cisco Plus

Moreover, APEX essentially counters Hewlett Packard Enterprise's GreenLake strategy. HPE in 2019 committed to offering its entire hardware and software portfolio "as a service" by 2022. The latest HPE GreenLake milestone arrived yesterday (May 4, 2021), when the company unveiled a data services cloud console coupled with subscription-based cloud data services and HPE Alletra -- a new portfolio of cloud-native data infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Cisco Systems is set to deliver Cisco Plus -- a complete as-a-service portfolio -- in mid-2021, the networking giant revealed in March 2021. Cisco Plus spans the company's entire data center, compute, networking and storage portfolio -- plus third-party storage and software. Cisco's goal is to bridge on-premises, edge and public cloud opportunities.

Of Cisco's key partners, MSPs in the SMB sector tend to be ahead of the curve on SaaS adoption. Indeed, SaaS-based Cisco solutions such as Duo, Meraki and Umbrella are popular within the SMB channel, which increasingly leans on MSPs to remotely support end-customers.

Back in the enterprise, even IBM's hardware business is pitching the as-a-service model. The effort involves a "flexible pricing model" for IBM Z hardware, according to IBM Z General Manager Ross Mauri. The new pricing model follow IBM's announcement to co-locate IBM DS8910F Storage into the IBM Z15 Model T02 frame, Mauri noted.

Dell Technologies World: Where Will Partners Take APEX?

Still, today marks the beginning of Dell Technologies World. And APEX will be generating plenty of buzz across the Dell channel ecosystem today.

Allison Drew, Dell Technologies

Summarizing the overall strategy, Allison Dew, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Dell Technologies APEX, said:

"The world is innovating faster than ever to meet new demands of customers, students, patients and constituents – driving the need for a more agile and simple technology approach. This is what APEX offers," said Allison Dew, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Dell Technologies APEX. “With the industry’s leading IT portfolio, decades of data center services experience and an unmatched global supply chain and partner network, no other as-a-Service portfolio comes close to our capabilities.”

How quickly will partners embrace and monetize APEX? And what type of managed services can partners wrap around APEX? We'll be watching for more clues.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.