By any measure, Dell Technologies is a formidable enterprise. While it made its reputation making and marketing PCs, it has grown to multiples of it early-day size after consuming EMC to become one of the most powerful traditional computer/server/storage companies in the world.
However, even with its size and scope--plus the fact that it owns and operates a very competitive enterprise cloud service--Dell EMC is still eclipsed by more powerful cloud providers. These, of course, include Amazon Web Services, the far and away segment leader for cloud solutions.
Amazon first came at the market not as an IT powerhouse, but as a retailer. Initially, it didn’t even use its own cloud solutions. But look how far it has come in a mere dozen years.
AWS now is far ahead of everyone else, owning about 32 percent of the global cloud services market. It won all this marketshare by focusing almost exclusively on the user, and that focus--and particularly its mid-market success--remains a powerful example of why you never want to underestimate Amazon.
Enterprise Cloud Services
However, enterprise-class services require a significant focus on security, reliability and performance at contracted-for levels. AWS is a value-based system that often falls short on one or more of these vectors while generally remaining a price leader. Price is certainly important to an enterprise, but this class of buyer/user needs to also meet the other requirements, because those requirements are often dictated by policies under internal audit review and non-compliance can be job-threatening.
I still remember the story I was told at a pharma security review where two researchers working on a new drug were given a cost from IT of something like $150,000 and nine months to get the hardware and services they needed for their project. They instead used a cloud service, it cost them about $3,000, and they got it done in a few weeks, earning a nice reward for their company only to get fired the next day for violating the firm’s security policy with their project. (Apparently the cloud servers they ended up using were based in Eastern Europe, and the CSO had a panic attack when he found out.)
While AWS has matured, it still has to blend its focus on users and ease of use with corporate/government compliance to a greater degree than its more enterprise-focused counterparts, Oracle Cloud and IBM SoftLayer. Microsoft Azure catapulted its founder, Satya Nadella, into the CEO slot at Microsoft suggesting long term that it has the greatest chance of outperforming AWS because founder and CEO Jeff Bezos clearly has other, higher, priorities. Azure is Nadella’s baby, and I doubt there is anything higher on his priority list than that offering.
Unlike most of the other cloud offerings that began life as a cloud pure play, Virtustream largely evolved during the hybrid-cloud wave and it is currently being run by part of the team that executed--very well I might add--the Dell-EMC merger. In addition, due to its relatively small size and increased focus by Dell Technologies, the solution should provide higher individual client focus as it scales up. Most of the other services are so large that even a company such as Boeing probably doesn’t get the focus it deserves, but to Virtustream even a law office gets unusual focus. Imagine what attention an enterprise would get.
The other distinct difference is that Virtustream increasingly will serve as the de facto Dell Technologies in the cloud. This can become an end-to-end solution when hybrid-focus Virtustream becomes not only a natural for Dell/EMC accounts but a rapid way to test a Dell hardware/software solution at scale. More importantly, by understanding the full platform, Virtustream users should be better able to avoid some of the cascading pitfalls that cloud services tend to have that rely on third-party hardware and software they don’t themselves make.
Virtustream’s latest announcement that focuses on cloud management, application automation and expanded reporting, management and visibility is a case in point that it is focused on providing a familiar Dell Technologies experience.
Every cloud service has its advantages and disadvantages. For Virtustream the advantages are that it is smaller and thus can focus on individual clients better. It was designed against a hybrid model at the start, and it is increasingly becoming more tightly integrated with other Dell/EMC offerings. This should make it particularly attractive to those favoring a hybrid-cloud model; those that are tightly, or want to be tightly, tied to Dell/EMC solutions; and for those who have deep enterprise-like security, reliability and performance requirements with which they need to comply.
As a result, Virtustream may be the best cloud solution many enterprises have yet to discover.