Dell Technologies' crown jewel in its portfolio is VMware and the technology giant is now making it the glue that holds its portfolio of companies together.
At the launch of its Dell Techologies World conference in Las Vegas, the company outlined a hybrid cloud strategy that aims to knit its data center and hybrid cloud technologies with public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and IBM Cloud with more to come. The effort is dubbed the Dell Technologies Cloud. VMware is also launching VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, which will include vSphere, vSAN and NSX running on Dell EMC's infrastructure.
In addition, Dell Technologies is launching a data center as a service effort where it manages infrastructure in a model that lines up with cloud computing 1-year and 3-year deals. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is also designed for companies running their own data centers, but want a cloud operating model. Dell Technologies data center as a service effort is built on a VMWare concept highlighted last year called Project Dimension.
"Dell Technologies writ large is in a unique position to bring a strong, rational hybrid cloud solution to market," said Matt Baker, senior vice president of Dell EMC strategy and planning. Baker added that most of Dell Technologies customers use on-premises infrastructure and private and public cloud services.
"Customers are working with 3 to 5 clouds and maybe more, but want consistency from an operating model standpoint," said Baker.
In a slide, the moving parts of the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform and data center as a service effort go like this:
Dell Technologies' hybrid cloud plans also reflect how VMware and its parent are moving closer together for strategic and portfolio planning. For the last year, Dell EMC and VMware have been working more closely and understanding how two worlds--one hardware driven and one software driven--can align. In an interesting twist, a lot of the legwork needed to blend Dell EMC's infrastructure more tightly with VMware was done to make the highly successful VMware-Amazon Web Services partnership work.
Pat Gelsinger, VMware CEO, said cloud providers have to work together for today's and tomorrow's workloads. Gelsinger was on stage at Dell Technologies World with Jeff Clarke, vice chairman of products and operations at Dell Technologies. Both executives have been working more closely together in an attempt to eliminate hybrid cloud silos.
"Cloud silos are the new bane of our existence," said Gelsinger.
To that end, Dell Technologies and VMware forged a partnership with Microsoft to connect Azure with what Dell and VMware have forged as well as workspaces.
In a nutshell, Dell Technologies' cloud strategy is designed to reflect a few key realities:
- Enterprises have a hybrid approach to the cloud.
- Many enterprises are using multiple cloud providers.
- Dell Technologies has a bevy of assets such as hyperconverged systems and software such as SecureWorks that can play well for the on-premises side of hybrid cloud approaches.
- The biggest advantage Dell Technologies has is VMware, which has built out its ability to span multiple clouds as well as containers.
- Enterprises are getting accustomed to traditional enterprises connecting on-prem with the public cloud.
- There are hybrid cloud efforts that at least rhyme somewhat with Dell Technologies Cloud and data center as a service. Oracle has Cloud at Customer, HPE and Cisco have broad hybrid portfolios with platforms to connect private and public compute, IBM has IBM Cloud Private and AWS has an on-prem play with AWS Outpost. Amazon AWS: Complete business guide to the world's largest provider of cloud services
- If Dell Technologies can integrate its various units and put VMware and its hardware systems on the same cadence there are selling opportunities.
In that context, Dell Technologies' approach lines up. When Dell acquired EMC the storage giant was run as a loose federation. When Dell Technologies completed the purchase it better integrated its units from a strategic perspective, but largely looked like a mutual fund. In the last year, Dell Technologies has worked more closely with VMware and used technologies from its various units to hit themes.
"We have what we call the Dell Technologies ELT -- leadership team -- where we bring together the CEOs of our family of businesses and we talk about the joint opportunities that we have: Overall market and how we can collaborate and coordinate together, and we create a set of objectives for technical collaboration, go to market collaboration," CEO Michael Dell told ZDNet.
Michael Dell's ambition was to create a one-stop provider of infrastructure. In 2016, he said: "We don't have to cater to short term thinking. We can think in decades. We will be the trusted provider for infrastructure for the next industrial revolution."
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But to move beyond a technology conglomerate and one that can take various independent assets and combine them for new functions, Dell Technologies needs a heavy dose of VMware. Here's a screen shot of VMware running on Dell EMC hyperconverged infrastructure.
Aligning hardware and software releases
One core theme from Dell Technologies is that its converged and hyperconverged infrastructure will roll out at the same time with VMware updates. For instance, Dell EMC's VXrail and VMware Cloud Foundation were designed to go together with a similar product and development cadence.
Dell Technologies will also leverage VMWare's Cloud Provider network, which provides as seamless experience among multiple providers. At Dell Technologies World, VMware and Dell Technologies Cloud integration will be demonstrated for workloads moving across multiple clouds and containers via a single console.
The combination of Dell Technologies and a more tightly coupled VMware will target markets like disaster recovery as a service. Baker said that Dell Technologies Cloud will offer multiple service-based components from portfolio companies such as Boomi, SecureWorks and Pivotal. "We can bring capabilities, engines and tooling together into useful bundles," said Baker. Each of these companies will also have ecosystems on their own that can be integrated.
For customers, the Dell EMC and VMware integration promises one-click hardware ordering, automated patching, monitoring and upgrades, governance from data center to edge as well as the ability to modernize applications via containers and Kubernetes.
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With VMware's partnership with AWS and IBM Cloud already hooked into Dell Technologies Cloud, Baker said it will be actively working to connect with the largest public cloud providers. "We are not having to knock their doors down. We fully intend to onboard the big three loud players plus VMware has Alicloud in Asia," said Baker.
Perhaps the best sign that VMware and Dell Technologies has tightly integrated is the data center as a service effort. "We weren't always best aligned and we addressed that," said Baker. "Data center as a service is the full realization of it."
The data center as a service effort is in initial beta with customers and made to cover large scale deployments as well as edge computing. According to Baker, Dell Technologies data center as a service will be available in the second half. Management of the data center service will utilize the Dell Technologies service delivery network.
Extending to the end user too
Dell Technologies also outlined a Unified Workspace concept that will also include various elements of the company's portfolio including (not surprisingly) VMware.
Brett Hansen, vice president and general manager of client software and security solutions, said Unified Workspace has elements available today such as VMware Workspace One, but the idea over time is to free up IT support tasks over time.
Hansen noted that worker productivity is far from optimized. In fact, the work experience is typically siloed by device. The Unified Workspace is designed to do things like sort top emails, fix issues before they happen, deliver files as you need them based on machine learning and manage multiple devices.
"As a user it's not a great IT experience. An employee that is highly productive is an asset," said Hansen.
Dell Technologies' approach to the Unified Workspace rhymes with its tactics on hybrid cloud. The company plans to mash up various assets, learn from Dell Technologies' device telemetry and reimagine experiences.
For starters, Hansen said Dell Technologies is looking to take the friction out of deployments, patches, new devices and security overall. In addition user specific images can be loaded onto Dell machines at the factory so an employee would have all the preloaded preferences and apps available instantly. "There would be significant time savings," said Hansen.
The Unified Workspace is in beta testing now. Hansen said the offering will be available as a subscription, license and bundle with Dell PCs and services. "VMware will be a key component of this to get visibility, insights and automation," said Hansen.