Dell, Microsoft Move to Reduce Risks of Hybrid Cloud Adoption

At Dell World, the two vendors unveil a platform that is designed to make it simpler, less costly and less risky for customers to embrace the cloud.

Dell Microsoft Cloud

AUSTIN, Texas—Dell and Microsoft a year ago unveiled the Cloud Platform System, a hybrid cloud offering that paired Microsoft's Azure cloud computing technology with hardware and management products from Dell.

The cloud-in-a-box platform was aimed at large businesses to help them accelerate their move to the cloud, and according to Dell CEO Michael Dell, customer adoption has been strong. At the Dell World 2015 show here Oct. 21, Michael Dell and Microsoft Satya Nadella introduced the newest iteration of the system targeting businesses of all sizes.

"Now we want to democratize it," Michael Dell said during his keynote address at the show. "This really brings hybrid computing to everyone."

Throughout the first two days of Dell World, Michael Dell and other executives have been reiterating their belief that as the world increasingly becomes more digital, the trend in the data center is toward a hybrid cloud environment, where businesses use a mix of on-premises systems layered with automation and management software and public clouds from the likes of Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS)—and the capability to easily move workloads between the two—to create more scalable, agile and responsive infrastructures.

Companies are under pressure to develop such infrastructures due to the demands from such trends as big data, analytics, mobility, virtualization and security, and the benefits to these companies range from lower costs to improved energy efficiency to better and more timely business decisions and revenue growth. Dell over the past several years has built out its cloud capabilities, both through internal efforts as well as via acquisitions of such companies as Boomi and Enstratius. Michael Dell said the companies will rapidly ramp up what it can do in the cloud when it closes next year on its $67 billion acquisition of EMC, which will bring with it such companies as VMware and Virtustream.

Pointing to the results of a global Dell survey of IT decision makers, 90 percent of respondents said such a hybrid cloud environment will be important to them in the future, and Dell's recently released Global Technology Adoption Index found that 55 percent of organizations worldwide use more than one type of cloud. However, it also found several challenges that are keeping many companies from embracing the cloud, including cost, security and—in terms of hybrid clouds—complexity.

With the Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft, the vendors are looking to address those hurdles and make it easier for businesses to begin moving in the direction of hybrid cloud computing. While the platform released last year was built upon Microsoft's Cloud Platform System (CPS) Premium, the new offering is based on the software maker's Cloud Platform System Standard, which pulls together Dell's modular infrastructure capabilities with pre-configured CPS software from Microsoft, including a software stack and Azure services for backup, site recovery and operational insights. It also includes such Dell services as ProSupport and Managed Cloud Services.

Through the Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft, customers in fewer than three hours can have an on-premises private cloud that includes consistent access to the Azure public cloud, according to officials with both companies. Automated software updates are unified through the system, and users can build templates for workloads. They also can use Dell Cloud Manager for deploying and managing multiple cloud environments from a single point.

Such capabilities are designed to help reduce the complexity and security of the platform. To help reduce costs and risk, Dell is offering its Cloud Flex Pay system, which includes the ability for customers to essentially try out the Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft for six months for $9,000. After those six months, businesses can return it, extend the evaluation period, continue to use the offering or buy it outright.

"It eliminates almost all short-term risks and I would say all long-term risks," Glenn Keels, executive director of product management for cloud, high-performance computing and integrated systems at Dell, said during a press briefing before the hybrid cloud platform was released.