May 9, 2022
Last week’s Dell Technologies World gave partners and customers a broad view of Dell’s cloud storage and infrastructure road map. The Las Vegas event set the stage for how the company will bring consistency to its on-premises infrastructure and the major public clouds.
The Dell Technologies ecosystem gathered for the first time in three years to learn the company’s ambitious agenda. At the forefront were Dell’s new Apex Cyber Recovery Services and Project Alpine storage architecture. The operative direction articulated by Dell co-COO Chuck Whitten was multicloud.
Dell’s Chuck Whitten
“The world needs multicloud by design, not by default,” Whitten said during the opening keynote. “And that is the great unsolved infrastructure challenge that we are working on at Dell Technologies.”
While there is little dispute about multicloud, Whitten said it doesn’t work well in its current form.
“Data is siloed; each cloud operates as almost an island,” Whitten said during a follow-up media and analyst briefing. “Someone has to be the orchestrator of bringing all that together and start to simplify what is a very complex multicloud world. And that’s where we come in. We have positioned the company to sit in that ecosystem, of the end user and edge clouds and telecom clouds and private clouds and public clouds and will give customers choice about where they store data and how they consume the services across that ecosystem.”
First Look at Project Alpine
The most significant demonstration of how Dell intends to accomplish that is with Project Alpine. Revealed in January, Project Alpine will bring all of Dell’s block, file and object storage to the three major clouds.
Dell VP of marketing Caitlin Gordon gave the first preview of Project Alpine during the second day keynote session.
Dell’s Caitlin Gordon on stage at Dell Technologies World 2022.
“Our goal with Project Alpine is really to enable operational consistency, drive greater efficiency and simplify data mobility. I am really excited to share our progress in this space,” Gordon told attendees and those viewing online.
Gordon first showcased a development team seeking to modernize an existing app, by moving Dell’s block storage software in AWS. Within the SaaS portal, she deployed the block storage in AWS.
“All of the deployment and the configuration is fully automated, takes just a few minutes to deploy. Once that’s done, you got a quick overview of the deployment,” Gordon said.
Then, to replicate the database from Dell’s on-premises PowerStore storage into AWS, Gordon made a few source and target configuration selections.
“And then once that copy operation is complete, the development team can get back to work,” she said.
Because it uses the same UI and APIs in AWS as on-premises, it doesn’t require any new skills, Gordon emphasized.
Gordon also demonstrated the process of moving cloud-native data on-premises using a new app described as container-mobility software.
“With just a single command, you can securely and seamlessly migrate that application from the cloud to on prem and back,” she said. “This enables you to truly develop once and run anywhere. It is a real game changer.”
Next, Gordon provided a demo of a similar scenario with file services with Microsoft Azure. In this example, Gordon started with video data stored on a makeshift manufacturing floor on a local Dell PowerScale NAS appliance. In this scenario, Gordon showed how to tap into the Microsoft Azure Computer Vision Service to analyze the data to detect anomalies. By copying the data from the PowerScale appliance into the Microsoft Azure cloud, “you can use it to train a computer vision model to automatically detect defects using Azure Cognitive Services,” Gordon explained. “Once that training job is complete, you can apply the new AI model into production to drive greater efficiency and quality in your manufacturing process.”
Dell isn’t the first to provide this capability, Moor Insights and Strategy analyst Steve McDowell wrote in a Forbes post. NetApp Cloud ONTAP and Pure Storage’s Pure Cloud Block Store are among offerings that customers have embraced. McDowell noted that NetApp Cloud ONTAP on AWS and Microsoft Azure delivered roughly 7% of NetApp’s top-line revenue during its most recently reported quarter.
“Beyond the feature set of whatever Project Alpine ultimately delivers, it will enable an experience for Dell customers that is consistent from edge offerings, to on-prem storage, to consumption-based Apex storage, to the public cloud,” McDowell added. “No longer will storage administrators need multiple toolboxes to solve their problems. Instead, they can just buy into the Dell ecosystem.
John Lochausen, primary storage presales engineer at Dell Titanium partner World Wide Technology, anticipates customers will welcome Project Alpine.
WWT’s Gordon Lochausen
“It is a step in the right direction,” Lochausen told Channel Futures. “We, and obviously Dell knows, that that’s been a gap and their product strategy. It’s not like they don’t have smart people working on these things. I don’t want to sound like they missed the boat. But, you know, sometimes turning the Titanic takes a while.”
Dell showcased Project Alpine, Apex and various other segments of its portfolio, in sessions and in the event’s exhibit hall. Likewise, Dell’s key alliance partners had a strong presence. Among them: Netscout, Wipro, Kyndryl and Red Hat. Check out our slideshow above of what we captured in the exhibit hall.
Christine Horton contributed to this report.
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