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Dell Heads Off to the Hybrid Cloud With VMware, Azure

Tight integration with VMware and an expanded partnership with Microsoft builds Dell’s hybrid bona fides.

Jeffrey Burt

April 29, 2019

5 Min Read
Hybrid-cloud
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LAS VEGAS — When Dell Technologies acquired storage giant EMC and its associated companies in a blockbuster deal that came in well north of $60 billion, the argument CEO Michael Dell and other executives often made was that the potential integrations of the various technologies would make the company even stronger in a rapidly changing IT landscape.

On the first day of the Dell Technologies World 2019 show here, Dell executives put that idea in motion by announcing tightly integrated offerings with VMware — one of the companies they inherited in the deal — that they said will make Dell a larger player in the rapidly expanding multicloud and hybrid cloud worlds.

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Dell’s Michael Dell

Michael Dell in his keynote address unveiled Dell Technologies Cloud, a program that includes not only running VMware’s Cloud Foundation software on Dell’s VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure and other systems, but also VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, a fully managed data center-as-a-service offering will bring VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center software on VxRail into customers’ on-premises environments.

In addition, during the keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger announced that VMware’s Cloud Foundation offering will now run natively on Microsoft’s Azure public cloud, expanding the reach of Dell and VMware in the public cloud and adding to the hybrid cloud strategy. VMware Cloud currently runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Alibaba’s cloud and other provider clouds.

All of this comes at a time when enterprises continue to embrace not only a multicloud strategy — where they’re using more than one public cloud provider — but also a hybrid cloud model, where among those cloud environments being used are private clouds on-premises. In a report earlier this year, Flexera found that 84% of businesses have adopted a multicloud model, with 69% embracing hybrid cloud.

Dell-cloud-as-a-service.jpgWith this in mind, public cloud providers are working to bring their offerings on-premises. Microsoft has done that with its Azure Stack and, more recently, Google Cloud Platform offered that with Anthos. Both efforts are designed to enable customers to leverage these cloud services on hardware that runs in their data centers. AWS last year introduced its Outposts, which are racks of Amazon-develop hardware that can run on-premises and easily link back to the AWS cloud.

“You’re seeing this trend of a lot of the public cloud services finding their ways on-premises and it’s the true definition of multicloud,” Michael Dell said during a press conference.

Through their tightly integrated offerings, Dell and VMware are now trying to do the same thing. VMware officials first spoke about the idea of running VMware cloud software in customer data centers last year when they introduced Project Dimension. Now the effort has an official name and is in beta with plans to…

…make VMware Cloud on Dell EMC available in the second half of the year.

Enterprises are adopting the cloud, but for a number of reasons, they’re not going migrate all of their applications and data out of the data center. For example, some may want to retain control over sensitive data or not want to grow through the effort and expense of adapting all of their legacy applications for the cloud.

Given the highly distributed nature of computing and the different places that applications and data may reside — the data center, edge or the cloud — what enterprises need is consistency, according to Jeff Clark, vice chairman of products and operations at Dell. That includes consistency in management capabilities as well as in the infrastructures, particularly as workloads move from one area to another.

“What we see with the VMware Cloud [on EMC], this was created a couple of years ago and it is now the substrate to seamlessly move applications and workloads across the entire environment, from on-premises where VMware has 600,000 customers — not all of them are using Dell EMC infrastructure, but quite often they are — through to the cloud and the edge,” Michael Dell said.

Through the Dell hybrid cloud initiative, customers will be able to run VMware Cloud Foundation software natively on VxRail or VxBlock 1000 converged infrastructure and validated systems developed by Dell. With VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, the VMware Cloud stack will run on VxRail systems first — and will expand to others later — as a subscription service fully managed by VMware and take advantage of the cloud benefits of agility, scalability and on-demand capabilities.

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VMware’s Kit Colbert

There’s a lot of opportunity in the VMware Cloud on Dell EMC offering for channel partners, according to Kit Colbert, vice president and CTO of VMware Cloud Platform business unit. VMware and Dell can take care of things inside the VxRail rack, “but outside that rack there’s a ton of other considerations around networking and power and management of all that, operations in those environments, all sorts of connectivity and so on and so forth, so there’s a ton of work to do there.”

There’s also a better opportunity now to engage with customers at highly strategic level, Colbert told Chanel Futures. With the hybrid cloud offerings, Dell and VMware are solving some basic infrastructure operation issues, “so now we can go back and spend time talking with customers about their high-level problems. How do they differentiate themselves in the business? How is IT getting in the way of business, slowing business down? … We’ve always talked about is getting that more strategic dialogue happening with customers to solve those bigger, business-impacting problems. This is a key building block in that.”

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