ESG's Mark Peters, Scott Sinclair, and Mark Bowker discuss their impressions from Dell Technologies World 2020, Project Apex, held virtually.
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Mark P: There were many big announcements at the recent Dell Technologies World, done digitally, of course. To talk about just one of them in some depth, I've got two colleagues with me. Scott Sinclair covers all things infrastructure, data center, and of course, the cloud when it comes to infrastructure. Mark Bowker covers more directly on the cloud, unified workspaces, all that sort of trendy new way of doing things.
The thing I wanted to talk about is Apex, which is a new way of, let's say, buying stuff. Now, Scott, you've already written about this. So let me turn it to you first to talk just briefly about what it actually is.
Scott: Sure thing, Mark. It's an announcement that they plan to take, as far as I can understand it, everything in their portfolio, and deliver it to their customers as a service, in addition to, you know, the normal traditional buying process. And they've had some of this before with Dell Technologies On Demand, they've had some capabilities.
But project Apex is, you know, when announced when you think about how broad Dell's portfolio is. I mean, that's a huge statement. And that's a huge endeavor. Now, they've announced they are going to start with storage as a service, which makes sense. It's going to be, you know...you're going to pay as you go or pay by the drip, and it's going to be a managed service. But essentially, this could be the start of something really transformational.
Mark P: All right. So, Mark, you listen with different ears, albeit I probably didn't describe your job quite as formally as I should have done at the beginning. But is that similar to what you heard?
Mark B: It is. I mean, they also want to not just Dell, I'll say, infrastructure and services, but also third party, right? They want you to be able to kind of go in there and go to the Cloud Console within Apex and be able to choose either, I'll say, the Dell umbrella services infrastructure that I need, as well as a partner.
I think the value of partners like IBM with Cloud Pak. I think with Equinix, kind of building them on our application architecture, or Rackspace, you know, pulling in these other third-party services or cloud services is super important as well. So I think that bigger part of the vision I think was missed a little bit by most that attended the event.
Mark P: I was taken by the fact that Michael went out of his way to point out that, you know, they have north of 20 billion in recurring revenue already. So as you both mentioned, this is not entirely new. I took this to be the biggest single announcement at the event. But, you know, above and beyond specific product products, this is obviously the financial product or set of products and capabilities.
Do you see it that way, both of you? I don't care who goes first.
Mark B: I mean, I'll go first. I mean, it's just validation of a consumption model at the end of the day, right? It's validation of a consumption model that the cloud service providers have already sparked within businesses to be able to say, "Hey, we can pay for what we consume." And then it's just further validation when I was in IT, sure. We used to buy boxes, but we may lease them. So there was more of, I'll say, kind of financial engineering that went on behind there.
I think the biggest thing, Scott, kind of going forward is just from an IT perspective, you know, how did they budget for something like this? And how do they ultimately know, your example, how much storage as a service are they going to consume over the next 6, 12 months, so they can line item that in whatever budgeting that they're doing?
Scott: There is some uncertainty. But at the end of the day, you're also, when you go with one of these as a service programs, you're minimizing your risk. IT is so complex and so diverse right now. There are so many new apps, so many different technologies that IT architecture and planning is a huge endeavor. And it's also an area where we see in our research, there's a tremendous level of skill shortage.
Dell is talking to its customers, and its customers are saying, "Look, this is just too hard. Why don't you just do this for me?" And that's what Dell's hearing with Project apex. And I think, Mark, you brought up something very powerful, which is that Cloud Console capability. There's an opportunity there for it to not only be an interface, but also a platform where Dell can sell all kinds of services.
Mark B: I think the issue just becomes, okay, Dell Cloud Console, but I'm already using Azure Arc, or I'm already using a VMware Console, or I'm using an AWS Console, or Google. What about those builders, right, those application developers that are using a different console? So I think ultimately, that has to kind of stitch together a little bit better than what I saw it.
Scott: Well, that's the question is, are we at a place where...sorry, is are we at the start of console wars where the various consoles try to compete with each other? Or will these different consoles try to find a way to collaborate and work together? And to me, I think that's a big question to watch moving forward.
Mark B: Great point.
Mark P: They'll stop trying to do the former and then be forced to do the latter. That's typically how it goes in this hybrid world. But I want to pick up on one other thing which I think is worth discussing. Mark, you talked about, you know, when you were in IT, you know, do you buy? Do you lease? There were choices. Scott talked about, you know, well, why not just have Dell do it for me?
I remember years ago when I started out selling in this business that, you know, this was in the good old mainframe era. And, you know, there were alternatives from whom you could just rent. Is this just about how you acquire IT or is this about what you acquire as well? Because at the end of the day, it is as a service. Is that as important as the fact that you are buying it, you know, in chunks or as you use it?
In other words, are we going to start seeing more not just of innovative ways of actually acquiring stuff, but are people going to be buying SLAs or outcomes? We've talked about this for a while, but is that what as a service really comes down to at the end?
Mark B: Like, what I see on Unified Workspace what Dell does is essentially, it's a desktop, or a PC, or a laptop as a service. So you are buying that SLA, you're buying, hey, we're going to provide this service, essentially an end-user computing environment, which includes the hardware, the operating system, how it gets managed, even applications on there for your users.
And that doesn't go and get shipped to the IT organization and then out to the user, it gets shipped directly to the user. IT has already set all that up. So I think in that example, you absolutely will see is, "Hey, I want to consume a desktop as a service or a unified workspace," in Dell's term for Scott, "and these are the parameters I want."
And every two years, guess what? A new one shows up at Scott's doorstep that he gets there. So in that case, I think you absolutely will be buying the service and the SLA to your point, Mark.
Scott: Yeah, and I'm going to echo the same thing. I think that's where IT wants to go. I mean, there are still some admins out there that love the idea of knowing exactly which component, you know, data lives on or down to the spindle. But at the end of the day, the current scale and how much demands are increasing from line of business teams to leverage data. No one's got that kind of time anymore.
So the ability to just say, "Look, I need this level of outcome," whether it's performance, or capacity, or protection, an SLA, "and you, Dell, go figure it out and give it to me at this price." That's a great way to optimize operations while minimizing your own risk.
Mark P: All right. Gentlemen, let's leave it there. I think we will hear a lot more about this. I know we'll hear a lot more about it. That's exactly what Dell themselves said. And clearly, this is front and center of the way they want to run the company over the coming years. Thank you both and thank you for watching.