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.
Dell, Microsoft Move to Reduce Risks of Hybrid Cloud Adoption
Keels said the platform as a whole lets businesses treat what is a complicated system like they would any other server.
“Customers have really, really been begging us for this and we think we’ve really answered the call,” he said.
Both Michael Dell and Nadella were in agreement about the future of hybrid clouds, which the Dell CEO said “will reign supreme.” Nadella said that “in the real world that we live in companies need that flexibility.”
Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, said Dell is establishing itself as the top vendor for cloud infrastructures, selling products to public cloud vendors like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and eBay, while offering a portfolio of technologies that enable businesses to set up their own private clouds.
“Essentially they want to be the cloud provider of everyone, whether they’re private or public,” Moorhead told eWEEK.
Company executives were smart in deciding not to follow Hewlett-Packard’s lead with its Helion public cloud and launch their own public cloud, he said. Instead, they are partnering with a broad array of companies—such as Microsoft—and creating offerings that support such cloud platforms as VMware’s EVO:Rail, Azure, Red Hat’s OpenStack distribution and Nutanix.
With the Dell Hybrid Cloud System for Microsoft, both companies are addressing the needs of customers for greater simplicity and risk reduction. It’s as close to a turnkey offering as there is, and the financing Dell has put in place essentially eliminates much of risk for customers, Moorhead said, adding that he doesn’t see much downside to the cloud platform.
“Dell is really good at selling people what they want,” he said. “Dell is very good at fulfilling demand rather than creating demand.”
Along with the cloud platform, Dell also announced the new Dell Administrator for Office 365, a console for managing Office 365, SharePoint and OneDrive, and Dell Foglight for Virtualization 8.3, which gives users a single point through which to manage performance in both the physical and virtual layer and increase performance management of private clouds running on Dell servers.