2021 is poised to be a transformational year for Dell Technologies, with Dell Technologies APEX playing the lead role. At this year’s Dell Technologies World, Dell announced the availability of what is expected to just be the start of a broad portfolio of managed IT services. Combined with the announced spin off of both VMware and Boomi, Dell Technologies is finding its focus—a focus I expect will lead to benefits for both Dell and its customers, but there is still much to be done.
What Is APEX?
Dell Technologies APEX is Dell’s approach to delivering its technology as a managed service. At a high-level, Dell wants to be your cloud provider, with you using their technology located either at your site or at a third-party location, as in the case of its announced partnership with Equinix.
Last year at Dell Technologies World, we were given a vision for APEX services, one that would eventually span its broader portfolio. This year, we saw the start of those services be released, with:
- APEX Data Storage Services – Storage-as-a-Service managed by Dell technologies and procured via a consumption-based model so organizations only pay for the capacity they use.
- APEX Cloud Services – Private or hybrid cloud infrastructure services based off Dell Technologies Cloud Platform. Businesses procure from a list of instances based on different workload types.
In addition to the services, both come with a couple other very important points to note:
- Dell is offering to have these services up and running in 14 days or less.
- Dell is also offering a 5-days-or-less target to expand the environment once in place.
Speed and consistency-of-service delivery is vital given the importance of agility to modern businesses. If these targets were announced by just anyone, I might pause to question whether they can actually deliver on that promise. With Dell Technologies, however, there are few, if any, that can match its global scale, reach, logistics, and services capabilities. So like all new options, there is a bit of “we need to see it first” in play, but I have significantly more confidence in Dell’s ability to hit these targets than I would for a provider with a weaker resume.
Why I Like What Dell Technologies Is Doing
If you have been followed much of my writing over the past several months, you may have detected a theme. I am a strong believer in the need for IT organizations and vendors to shift how IT is designed and delivered, away from systems and toward delivering services and outcomes. In a nutshell, modern IT is just too important to the business, and it has become too complex. Businesses continue to struggle to hire the right tech talent, and fewer and fewer businesses have time to accurately architect it. Businesses want, and often need, to get out of the business of managing IT infrastructure, and IT infrastructure providers need to help them.
So I like APEX. But what I really like, and I hope Dell can stay true to the vision here, is Dell’s focus this year at the event. It would have been very easy for Dell to release its APEX services, along with a couple other new hardware or software releases, as just a sub-headline to a larger story or spend all their time talking about the hardware behind APEX, highlighting the many features, knobs, and components of the backend hardware. Instead, Dell focused on the services and the experience, which is what modern businesses care about. At no point did a see a bezel of a system that said “APEX” on it or anything else for that matter. It's the service that matters; the system should stay behind the scenes.
If Dell is going to deliver infrastructure services on par with those of public cloud providers, then it needs to focus. To paraphrase the great Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies, if you walk on the left side of the road, you’re safe. Walk on the right side, you’re safe. If you walk in the middle, sooner or later... you get squished just like a grape.
Offering IT services is the same. You need to commit to this as an organization if you are going to succeed. And from what I saw this year at Dell Technologies World, Dell is committed. We just need to see if they can hold true.
For a business to truly reach its digital potential, it needs to focus the bulk of its technical talent on maximizing the value of its data. To do that, it must get out of the business of managing infrastructure. The public cloud is great, but there are risks to being all in on one provider, and on premises has advantages for many workloads. Dell Technologies is providing an option for its customers to escape the business of managing infrastructure, while still deploying the technology they want, where they need it. It is an incredibly valuable proposition and hopefully the beginning of a new era.
Let me know what you think, though. Are you in the minority that prefers the old capital-intensive way of buying IT hardware? I want to hear from you. Send me a note and let’s discuss.