Dell’s Project APEX: Enhancing as-a-Service Choice, Simplicity, Consistency

eWEEK CLOUD SERVICES ANALYSIS: Robust online and network technologies have helped broaden the aaS model to include everything from subscription-based software and services to buy-as-you-go access to public clouds. But less common are vendors that have developed a holistic approach to aaS.

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As-a-Service (aaS) solution offerings are commonplace in the tech industry. For years, hardware vendors offered customers aaS-based options to replace the capital expenditure (CAPEX) sting of equipment acquisition with easier to manage operational expense (OPEX) payments. That is a particularly important issue for financially constrained companies, including startups and small businesses. In addition, aaS-based solutions can reduce the cost and complexities of adding or reducing compute capacity to mirror business demand and market fluctuations.

Robust online and network technologies have helped broaden the aaS model to include everything from subscription-based software and services to buy-as-you-go access to public clouds. But less common are vendors that have developed a holistic approach to aaS that extends across and enhances virtually all their solution and service portfolios. 

That is precisely what Dell Technologies has done with the new Project APEX it announced this week at Dell Technologies World 2020. Let’s consider what the company is planning with Project APEX.

The challenges of one-dimensional aaS

Though IT subscription and outsourcing options are often included in aaS discussions, the term is also associated with the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions offered by cloud services providers. In contrast, broader IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) solutions are offered by a range of companies, including value-added resellers (VARs) and others who specialize in specific solutions of deployment types. 

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it can sometimes result in businesses working with numerous companies whose aaS solutions and management offerings are often complex and sometimes contradictory. Deploying homogeneous solutions can help in some respects, but few vendors offer aaS options for all their products and services, and many utilize separate management platforms for different product classes or use cases. 

Companies’ continuing adoption of hybrid cloud solutions (a trend that has accelerated this year due to changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic) has increased aaS environment complexities. Not surprisingly, organizations want or need to account for, track and manage all their applications, workloads and data assets whether they’re located on premises or in multiple public clouds. However, finding solutions that effectively support those processes is harder than you might think. 

Dell Technologies’ Project APEX

How is Dell’s Project APEX different from other aaS solutions? In essence, the company is extending its as-a-Service model to provide simplified access to Dell PCs, storage systems, servers, networking products, hyperconverged infrastructure solutions and broader offerings. In addition, Project APEX will unify Dell’s technology offerings, as-a-Service and cloud strategies and go-to-market efforts. 

As Dell continues to expand Project Apex, its customers and partners should enjoy a consistent, predictable as-a-Service experience wherever they choose to use Dell solutions, including on-premises offices and data centers, remote and edge locations and public cloud platforms, including AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. 

According to Jeff Clarke, Dell’s COO and vice chairmen: “Our goal is to give customers the freedom to scale resources in ways that work best for them, so they can quickly respond to changes and focus less on IT and more on their business needs.” In other words, Project APEX is designed to help Dell customers and partners both by optimizing the access to and management of IT solutions and resources and by removing existing or potential hindrances. 

Though Project APEX is designed to work across all of Dell’s existing product and service portfolios, it also incorporates significant new innovations. Chief among these is the new Cloud Console that customers can use to manage their cloud and as-a-Service solutions and assets. Dell’s Cloud Console enables customers to easily deploy workloads, manage multi-cloud resources, monitor costs in real time and add or reduce IT capabilities. 

Additionally, Dell noted that it has expanded its cloud and as-a-Service offerings with new services, including Cloud Platform instance-based offerings (where customers can get started with hybrid cloud for as low as $47 per instance per month with subscription pricing) and Cloud PowerProtect for Multi-cloud (a fully-managed service designed to help customers protect their public cloud-based data and applications via a low latency connection to major public cloud platforms).

The company also announced a new offering that will be available in the first half of 2021: Dell Technologies Storage as-a-Service (STaaS), an on-premises, as-a-service portfolio of scalable and elastic storage resources that will offer block and file data services, along with a range of enterprise-class features. Customers can easily manage their STaaS resources with the Dell Technologies Cloud Console, and STaaS is designed to support clients that prefer OPEX transactional payments. 

Final analysis 

Project Apex is the latest offering that Dell has developed to serve clients’ elemental needs and enhance business performance and efficiencies. By supporting whatever solutions customers choose, simplifying complex or difficult processes and offering a consistent experience that extends from individual on-premises devices to workloads and data residing in multiple public clouds, Dell is considerably improving the quality of end user experience, as well as the value of business customers’ IT investments. Those are worthy goals to pursue and achieve.

Charles King is a principal analyst at PUND-IT and a regular contributor to eWEEK.  © 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.