“As an industry, we are firmly in the middle of a hybrid cloud/multicloud movement,” he says. And the channel wins.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

November 5, 2020

8 Min Read
Clouds Reflecting Off Water

Deepak Patil recently celebrated his first anniversary leading Dell Technologies Cloud, a purveyor of hybrid platforms.

“It’s been a phenomenal, phenomenal year,” he told Channel Futures. “We are all very proud about the progress we’ve made.”

Patil came to Dell from Virtustream, where he served as CTO and senior vice president of product and engineering. Before that, he worked as vice president of development at Oracle. And before that, well, many in the channel know Patil for his various roles at Microsoft and as a founding member of the Azure platform. Now, with year one under his belt, Patil, senior vice president and general manager of Dell Cloud, is looking ahead.


Dell’s Deepak Patil

“As an industry, we are firmly in the middle of a hybrid cloud/multicloud movement,” he said. “I’ve been building cloud for the better part of the last decade. And we’ve been hearing that everything is going to move to public cloud. But for the first time over the last couple of years, the industry has turned a corner in terms of its approach to cloud as an operating model.”

Patil sees this as an opportunity for Dell Cloud to take the reins. As organizations around the globe choose different paths to the cloud, Patil – and Dell – say hybrid will prove the most optimal configuration.

“We like our model and consider it part of our responsibility as a technology stalwart to steer the industry in the right way,” he said.

And the right way, according to Patil and Dell, equals hybrid cloud.

“It’s not just a public cloud future, not just a private cloud future. It’s a hybrid cloud future and a multicloud future,” Patil said.

A Hybrid, Multicloud Future

He’s not alone in predicting that hybrid cloud will outpace standalone public and private setups. Market experts have been forecasting the rise of hybrid and multicloud arrangements over their more static counterparts for at least a couple of years. And COVID-19 still is pushing many organizations to adopt hybrid cloud, in many cases sooner than planned.

After all, too many organizations need the security assurances of on-premises cloud and the availability of public cloud to choose only one. Yet they need what research firm IDC calls “The Holy Grail” in cloud computing: “a frictionless, hybrid multicloud that provides consistent experience and unified management across multiple public clouds, private clouds, and even traditional infrastructure.”

Such an “idealistic state” may not be attainable, wrote analyst Chris Kanthan. However, that’s not stopping Dell, as one example, from trying to reach it. Dell recently unveiled Project Apex, in large part to address the twin issues of experience and management.

“It’s really a unifying effort,” Sam Grocott, senior vice president, product marketing at Dell Technologies, said in October.

The move makes sense for Dell Cloud. Almost all – 92% – of its customers use hybrid cloud, Patil said. Eighty-eight percent have more than one cloud and service provider. This isn’t quite a multicloud situation, Patil said. Rather, it’s “multiple cloud.”

“Cloud platforms don’t work well together yet. Data challenges are still quite basic across different cloud platforms. There are developmental, configuration, cost management, management challenges. We are at the beginning of that journey as an industry.”

Project Apex aims to address those exact problems. At the same time, Dell Cloud will …

… keep tackling multicloud.

“We are committed to building more multicloud services,” Patil said.

That way, enterprises can expect their VMware, for example, to work well on a hyperscale cloud such as Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services. Some vendors already have made progress on this front. Dell, for its part, in late September revealed deeper VMware integrations. Such partnerships allow customers to keep their core, even legacy, ecosystems while taking advantage of different clouds’ capabilities.

“Everybody wins in that model,” Patil said.

Dell Cloud: Depending Heavily on the Channel

Dell Cloud expects to achieve its goals all with the help and participation of channel partners.

“The offerings coming out of Dell Cloud will be focused on all innovation happening across Dell and VMware,” Patil said.

Along the way, though, innovations from channel partners, data center, infrastructure and other vendor partners, as well as hyperscalers, will fit in, too.

“They will either amplify the value proposition of our offerings, extend our offerings or provide support to our offerings,” Patil said.

The biggest takeaway for the channel is this: “We’re creating more business models that are conducive for our partners to do business,” Patil said.

There are new ways in which that will materialize. First, it means letting Dell Cloud’s 200-plus channel partners build on cloud platforms and use Dell’s new Cloud Console and marketplace. The Console, of course, enables management across clouds. Partners will be able to integrate their own systems of record into that portal.

“This will make it simpler and seamless to provision infrastructure on behalf of their end customer,” said Varum Chhabra, vice president of product marketing, Dell Cloud, in September.

They also will have the option to tie into Dell’s cloud marketplace through the Cloud Console.

“We are creating business and financial models to incentive our partners,” Patil said. “We are making it easy for our partners to integrate their technologies onto our platform.”

The Role of Services

All this especially revolves around services. While some customers will want to handle their own cloud management, others will call on Dell to do it for them. And Dell “will definitely leverage our partners and their help for how our cloud is served and supported,” Patil said.

That points to the second new type of business model Dell wants to emphasize for partners.

“One of the big things that has happened during the pandemic is this increased proclivity by customers for more opex-driven commerce and business models,” Patil said.

That, of course, stands out as of one of the primary promises of cloud investment. So partners will play a role.

“We’ll be extending our opex-driven business models to partners and letting partners integrate their opex-led business models into our offers,” Patil said, adding, “When we bring more ‘as a service’ offers to the market, we will bring them to market in a way that underscores value proposition of our partners,” he noted.

Patil could not provide more information when he talked with Channel Futures in late October; more insight will be forthcoming when Dell can discuss details.

A Look Back

COVID-19 has changed everything. Within the working world, its most notable impact has come in the shift to remote work. For Dell, not just Dell Cloud, that meant moving most of its 170,000 employees from the office to home — in a matter of weeks. At first, Patil said, Dell Cloud teams worried the change would …

… hinder innovation. But that hasn’t happened.

Keep up with resources for supporting partners and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have maintained the rate of innovation, the momentum around execution and overall collaboration,” he said. “And especially when you are driving transformation of this scale … it’s very important that a company like Dell has a strong … fabric of how we work inside the company. … I am so impressed with how our teams have been able to maintain execution and quality of collaboration.”

That does not just reflect efficacy inside the organization, though — it filters outside as well.

“It translates into how we help our customers,” Patil said.

And even with the pandemic in play for much of Patil’s first year at Dell Cloud, he emphasized the bright side. Again, Dell Cloud launched the Cloud Console and brought integration between Dell and VMware stacks. Along the way, the company gained even more “commitment from our partners and customers.”

A Look Ahead

Three years from now, Patil projects that customers will opt for “ecosystems” from different vendors, rather than a particular cloud. In other words, they will go to a Dell Cloud ecosystem or an Azure Cloud ecosystem, he said. That reflects capabilities and innovation across infrastructure, SaaS, virtualization and other stacks — the full life cycle, Patil explained.

“The power of the ecosystem will be more than it ever has been over the next five years,” he said.

In addition, Patil said partners should keep an eye out for three main trends to affect the cloud sector over the next six to 12 months. The first will happen in hybrid and multicloud, both of which will become “accepted forces in digital transformation,” Patil said. In fact, he pointed out, that’s already happening. Consider Google Cloud’s Anthos and AWS’ Outposts products as prime examples.

Next, the so-called “edge” will become the more desired destination for workloads, especially as 5G service and devices become more ubiquitous.

“A lot more opportunities will open up there over the next couple years,” Patil said.

Third, and finally, look for seams across disparate clouds to disappear. No longer will partners need to broker cloud decisions for clients, Patil predicts.

“That will become an important value proposition for anybody in the channel ecosystem,” he said. “I and Dell believe cloud brokerage is where you make decisions on which cloud is right for customers, especially when you have your own cloud to promote. I do not believe cloud brokerage is the right future for partners.”

Rather, he said, the better approach calls for “leveraging customer trust and helping them through their modernization journey by creating multiple, seamless options for them.”

However quickly or slowly that all comes about in the greater cloud world, partners can expect Dell Cloud’s momentum to continue under Patil.

“If you don’t execute, it’s all just empty words,” he said.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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