The public cloud providers have spoiled IT architects. The convenience of opening a web browser and deploying resources without actually needing to buy any expensive servers or storage arrays is unmatched in the history of enterprise IT.
At the same time, placing all of your workloads in the public cloud is not the solution to every problem. Some workloads need to be managed outside the confines of the public cloud providers. This can be for any number of reasons, from data regulation to application latencies. The public cloud providers recognize this and attempt to address them with on-prem targeted solutions, such as Amazon’s AWS Outposts.
Nearly every traditional enterprise infrastructure provider is tackling this problem by introducing branded consumption-based offerings to IT buyers. These offerings deliver traditional servers and storage with a cloud-like business model, with cloud-like manageability. IT practitioners can consume these services in a range of models, from bare-metal offerings to full-managed IT services.
Dell Technologies has jumped into this space in a big way with its introduction this month of its APEX infrastructure services offerings. Dell's APEX spans the gamut of on-prem consumption-based storage through custom cloud-based managed solutions.
APEX Data Storage Services
Dell’s APEX Data Storage Services is Dell’s on-premises storage-as-a-service offering, based on Dell’s portfolio of storage solutions. APEX Data Storage Services provides IT consumers with a scalable and elastic consumption model.
The infrastructure behind APEX Data Storage Services is deployed on customer premises but remains owned and operated by Dell Technologies. An IT administrator then provisions and manages the storage resources through a cloud-based management portal. Customers pay only for the storage consumed.
Dell is bringing its APEX Data Storage Services into a crowded market. Pure Storage has long offered its Pure-as-a-Service, while Hewlett Packard Enterprise jumped into the space only days before Dell’s announcement with its own HPE Alletra offering.
This competition speaks directly to the value provided by a consumption-based model. It delivers value to IT administrators by offering elastic storage services managed through a single pane of glass, delivered with predictable OpEx-driven financial models that CFOs like.
APEX Cloud Services
Dell’s APEX Cloud Services folds storage capabilities into a more robust HCI-like solution, delivering Dell EMC VxRail as a service. This provides full-stack enterprise infrastructure as a consumption-based service based on a combination of Dell and VMware offerings. APEX Cloud Services comes in two flavors.
APEX Hybrid Cloud is built on VMware Cloud Foundation, which allows full automation and workload orchestration spanning a customer’s complete cloud environment. This is an ideal architecture for performance enterprise workloads, including relational databases, AI-driven analytics, and even virtual desktops with VDI.
APEX Private Cloud is a more entry-level approach to infrastructure-as-a-service. APEX Private Cloud is based on VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus and VMware VSAN. This stack provides the flexibility to deploy most applications, but Dell targets the solution to the enterprise edge. This includes remote and branch offices, manufacturing, and similar remote locations where robust IT capabilities are needed.
Dell allows IT administrators to manage its APEX Cloud Services through a new management console. APEX Console is a cloud-hosted management platform that enables customers to manage the procurement, deployment, and even health monitoring of its deployed APEX solutions. This coexists with the operational interfaces provided by the VMware software running on the various flavors of Dell's APEX Cloud Services.
There is no real direct competitor to Dell's APEX Cloud Services. IT customers can achieve the same results by mixing and matching various offerings from different vendors, but Dell has significantly streamlined things with its APEX Cloud Services. Dell has taken the simplicity of its Dell EMC VxRail and is delivering it with the flexibility promised by a consumption-based delivery model.
APEX Custom Solutions
Not every IT challenge fits nicely within a pre-defined solution. Dell addresses the need for individually tailored solutions delivered with the same flexible consumption-based business and operating model behind its APEX Cloud and Data Storage Services with its APEX Custom Solutions.
APEX Custom Solutions allows IT buyers to create bespoke solutions built from Dell's overall portfolio storage, server, and HCI offerings. Dell provides customers a flexible procurement model, called Flex on Demand, managed by Dell Financial Services. Everything from procurement to health monitoring managed through the APEX console.
The Analyst’s Take
The consumption-based as-a-service market is crowded. It’s hard to find an infrastructure provider who doesn’t have some flavor of as-a-service offering. It makes sense. IT buyers have come to enjoy the flexibility provided by cloud service providers but don't always have needs aligned to cloud deployment.
Offerings like Dell's APEX close the gap between the benefits of a cloud model with the practical benefits of on-prem infrastructure. Dell is giving IT shops a great choice based on the most comprehensive portfolio of infrastructure offerings in the industry.
Dell is partnering well as it delivers APEX to the market. Its APEX Cloud Services are based on market-leading VMware offerings. When not deployed on-prem, Dell's APEX Data Storage Services are delivered by Equinix, which has 220 data centers across the globe.
IT shops have never had a more comprehensive array of choices from which to build data services. Dell jumping into this market with its various APEX offerings only validates the consumption-based approach while bringing great new options for IT to consider. It's an excellent time to be an IT buyer.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.