Austin, Texas: A number of announcements were made at the inaugural Dell EMC World event (as well as VMWorld Europe), including a several cloud-related items. While not necessarily more significant or relevant than the other news, I decided to focus on the cloud items because cloud seemed to offer more perspective about Dell’s future, than its present.
Dell’s Elastic Cloud Storage (formerly Project Nile), acquired with EMC, is a software-defined, cloud-based distributed file and object storage platform that manages data as objects. While it’s market segment represents an attractive solution for soaring data growth, it is not seeing corresponding growth, according to a study released at the start of the year.
The ‘object storage market gains remained lackluster,’ although that should change: the ‘increased pressure on the storage infrastructure to scale bigger, protect longer, and keep more data active in more locations will likely continue to drive IT organizations to seek to deploy an architecture that can cost-effectively solve not only the scale challenges of today, but also those of the next decade or two in the future. For many organizations that architecture is object storage.’
Fast forward 9 months and following “good momentum”, Dell is making five ECS announcements, including software and enterprise enhancements, an appliance, and a single-tenant version due out later this year. While the announcements will appeal to existing customers, the intent is to grow the customer base, said Varun Chhabra, Director of Product Marketing for Dell EMC Emerging Tech Team.
We’re “growing really fast,” he told IT Trends & Analysis. While the news should appeal to both existing and new customers, the “focus still remains on continuing to penetrate new accounts.”
Given its position, Dell would seem to have nowhere to go but up. Chhabra said their goal is to equip customers on their journey to the cloud, wherever they may be. “We have to continue to innovate to provide customers that value.” It’s all about enabling choice for customers, and continuing to innovate, he added.
Earlier this month VMware and Amazon Web Services announced a strategic partnership under which VMware’s software-defined data center (SDDC) offering will run on the AWS public cloud in mid-2017. With VMware Cloud on AWS (the new platform), customers will be able to run applications across VMware vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments using their existing VMware software and tools for a full range of storage, database, analytics and other services.
“We see that we could bring together the best of both worlds,” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. “The best of public cloud and the best of private cloud are coming together.” Earlier this year the company unveiled a partnership that lets customers migrate workloads back and forth between VMware-based private clouds and the IBM SoftLayer public cloud.
However the company’s cloud path has been a little rocky: prior to closing the EMC deal Dell ‘pulled the plug’ on its Cloud Manager brokerage service, a part of a larger strategy to be a central hub for cloud, with Dell providing a single portal for management, billing and shopping for cloud services. “Dell was ahead of their time in terms of the market being ready for a brokerage platform,” said Mindy Cancila, research director at Gartner. Strategically, the acquisition made sense, “but the problem was they never really integrated it, and I think they jettisoned the market just a little shy of the market being ready.”
The assets acquired with EMC, i.e. VMware’s vRealize management and automation tools, should better extend Dell’s cloud aspirations. “Those would be the things really where it ought to be putting investments and momentum, rather than this other collection of things, which clearly never got any traction in the market,” said William Fellows, research VP with 451 Research.
You can expect that Dell will revisit this segment, and sooner rather than later. While its multi-cloud management plans may have been temporarily — and perhaps too-quickly — put on hold, this segment is expected to see almost 30% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021, surging from $939.3 million in 2016 to $3.431.2 billion.
For those still mired in the present and looking for news about existing and/or niche products, Dell also announced:
-VxRail Appliances and VxRack Systems configurations;
-Isilon All-Flash, bringing compelling all-flash performance, storage density and economics, all at 92.4 PB per cluster;
-a combined strategy to offer SC Series storage customers a common management and data protection experience with SC compatibility with key EMC storage management and protection products;
-cloud-enabled data protection solutions and capabilities, including support for Dell EMC PowerEdge servers and cloud backup software;
-Analytic Insights on Native Hybrid Cloud Module combines all of the hardware, software and services necessary to deliver a platform that enables organizations to analyze massive amounts of data to identify insights and then quickly integrate those insights into cloud native apps that deliver higher business value; and,
And from across the pond, VMware’s VMWorld news included:
–vSphere 6.5 will feature a simplified customer experience through increased automation and management capabilities, comprehensive built-in security, and support for new application types including containers;
-Virtual SAN 6.5 will improve total cost of ownership (TCO) savings an additional 50% by adding support for containers and physical workloads, unveiling iSCSI support, eliminating networking hardware costs from two-node Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) configurations, and adding all-flash hardware support to Virtual SAN Standard Edition;
-vRealize Automation 7.2 will introduce out-of-the box support for Microsoft Azure as well as new container management capabilities;
-Kubernetes as a Service on Photon Platform has been added, as will networking and storage services powered by NSX and Virtual SAN, respectively; and,
-new Workspace ONE innovations and collaboration with Microsoft to deliver optimized Skype for Business Experience in Horizon.
DISCLAIMER: A former Dell and EMC shareholder, I’ve still got some shares of VMware, and am attending this event courtesy of Dell.