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May 26, 2021
When it rolled out its subscription service for on-prem storage earlier this month, Dell Technologies also said it would leverage Equinix data centers around the world to deploy these storage systems in, if that’s what customers desire.
The service, and other services that are or will be part of Dell’s push into selling computing infrastructure subscriptions, branded as Apex, aims to give enterprise customers a more cloud-like experience than buying Dell hardware on their own and getting it deployed in their own or colocation data centers.
Rather than buy and manage their own equipment, customers can subscribe to Apex Data Storage Services, and Dell will install and manage the storage hardware for them in data centers of the customers’ choice. Like traditional cloud infrastructure services, Dell will charge customers for the capacity they use, not total capacity deployed.
Apex Cloud Services, Dell’s EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure as a service that was announced along with Apex storage, is not part of the Equinix agreement.
Equinix is the world’s largest colocation provider, with more than 220 data centers globally. Shifting the burden of installing and managing the storage equipment alone will make the Apex storage service attractive, Eric Schwartz, Equinix’s chief strategy and development officer, told DCK.
“I have yet to run across an enterprise technology group that has extra capacity to manage more stuff,” he said. “So, the ability to rely on Dell to deliver the comprehensive whole is a clear advantage.”
Existing Equinix customers will see value in their ability to locate Dell Apex infrastructure next to their existing infrastructure in Equinix facilities, he added.
Equinix gives Dell an easy way to roll Apex out globally while growing its own value proposition for customers, said Steve McDowell, a senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Equinix takes care of the real estate, power, and air conditioning,” he said. “Equinix is already a big, key player, but having Dell as a partner increases its value proposition and visibility in the hosted, managed services space.”
Dell, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Cisco Systems, and other hardware providers are all racing to make their products sold in the conventional way available through a subscription-based, as-a-service model.
Dell’s Apex strategy, announced in 2020, promises a single interface for provisioning public cloud services and its own on-premises products as a hybrid cloud.
Last year Dell partnered with the US data center provider Switch and FedEx to build small data centers at FedEx logistics centers to sell Dell products as a service in locations that could be considered “edge.”
HPE pledged in 2019 to make every product it sold available as a service under the HPE GreenLake brand within three years. Most recently, in April, Cisco announced its own as-a-service strategy. Among storage vendors, NetApp and Pure Storage both have as-a-service offerings, McDowell said.
Equinix has partnering with several of these companies to provide a data center platform for these new services, including HPE GreenLake, Schwartz said.
“It’s a similar proposition, where customers who are purchasing HPE GreenLake but want it located in an Equinix data center can get that packaged and delivered via HPE in the same way as Dell Apex,” he said.
In March Equinix partnered with Pure Storage to deliver a service that pairs Equinix’s bare-metal servers, called Equinix Metal, with Pure Storage hardware, Schwartz said.
Equinix operates data centers in more than 60 markets worldwide and together with Dell it has identified specific data centers in each market where Apex will be available to customers. That allows Dell to manage the Apex storage equipment more easily for customers, because it is grouped together in the same data centers, Schwartz said.
Through Dell’s Apex Console self-service portal customers can easily order block and file storage capacity with three performance levels to choose from, according to a recent Dell blog post. Dell promises that the equipment will be up and running within 14 days of order.
Dell, which owns and operates the hardware, equips a customer with 25 percent additional storage capacity above what they ordered. That way, customers can access additional storage whenever they need it without worrying about running out of capacity. Dell offers the base and on-demand capacity at a single rate, with no penalty or overage fees for the flexibility of on-demand, elastic usage, the blog post said.
The customers’ single point of contact is Dell, but in the background, Equinix provides support, Schwartz said. Equinix and Dell worked together to develop processes and frameworks to make sure customers enjoy a consistent and seamless experience, he said.
“The combination of Dell Apex and Equinix infrastructure is a win-win because the combined value to the customer is better than what either of us would offer independently,” Schwartz said.
For example, Equinix Fabric provides direct, private network connections to major cloud providers for customers who want to deploy a hybrid cloud environment.
If a customer that uses Dell Apex within an Equinix data center wants to connect to a public cloud provider, the relationships are in place for Equinix staff to support Dell in helping that customer connect to the public cloud, Schwartz said.