Dell EMC's Burton Draws Clear Line Between Virtustream, General-Purpose Clouds, Says 'No One' Will Run SAP Or Oracle On AWS

There's room in the fast-developing cloud market for Dell EMC's Virtustream unit and Amazon Web Services, and it's unlikely that they'll ever directly compete, say Dell EMC executives.

Executives say Virtustream has no real designs on moving downmarket into AWS territory, and that it's highly unlikely that AWS will be able to push its way into Virtustream's niche. The move by Dell Technologies' VMware unit to ink an agreement with AWS won't change that, Jeremy Burton, Dell Technologies chief marketing officer, told CRN.

"It's an ecosystem play for us," Burton said. "VMware did the deal with IBM several months ago, and in the last few weeks they've done the deal with AWS. The general idea is let's make sure our software runs well on those ecosystem partners. There's no discontent at all inside any part of the Dell Technologies group. Folks like Pivotal have run on AWS for quite some time. For general-purpose infrastructure, they're going to be a factor. We know we have to get along well with them."

[Related: Dell CMO: EMC's Enterprise Muscle Will Be Key To Success Of Dell Technologies]

For Burton, the die is cast. Dell EMC isn't interested in developing its own general-purpose public cloud, he said, and AWS simply isn't an enterprise cloud player.

"We don't run into deals with Virtustream where we're competing with AWS," Burton said. "It just never happens. Nobody's considering running those kinds of workloads on AWS. For those performance-sensitive, highly resilient workloads, our preferred solution, be it Dell EMC or be it VMware, is going to be Virtustream. I think you'll find no one will run SAP ERP on AWS, just nobody. Or Oracle for that matter," Burton said.

Burton said SAP and Oracle workloads make heavy demands on a cloud's underlying infrastructure. For example, he said, 95 percent of Oracle user transactions must have sub-1-second response time. "The acceptance of the system is predicated upon a certain number of transactions meeting a performance threshold, and if a service provider isn't going to provide that guarantee, then they're never going to use it," Burton said. "That's the thing with a lot of the public clouds right now. They're easy to use, and it's easy to get going, but nobody really provides service-level guarantees."

On the other hand, AWS is a general-purpose cloud environment, and Dell EMC has no intention of building out its own general-purpose public cloud only to "go chase Amazon's taillights," Burton said.

Scott Millard, formerly EMC's vice president Americas channel sales, was made head of Virtustream's channel operation about two weeks ago. He told CRN that enterprise public cloud is a huge opportunity for channel partners.

"This year $12 billion was spent on enterprise public cloud, and that's supposed to triple over the next three years," Millard said. "We are Dell Technologies' preferred enterprise public cloud. That's a massive market opportunity. It's a huge opportunity for partners to begin to play in enterprise public cloud. I think you're starting to finally see customers get comfortable moving their crown jewels, their big mission-critical apps, to the cloud, and that's where we are."

In that space, Virtustream competes with IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CenturyLink and others, and while Millard expects that AWS could move into the enterprise public cloud arena, it's unlikely that it would compete directly with Virtustream.

"They have strategies to ultimately service the enterprise, but we are the leader today. [Virtustream's] Micro VM technology -- there are efficiencies we can offer that our competition can't," Millard said. "We can build in much smaller increments than our competitors can."

The Micro VM and automation are Virtustream's secret sauce, he said, and the software allows customers to start small and pay only for what they use.

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Scott Harper, sales director at Softchoice, a Toronto, Ontario-based Dell EMC partner, said Dell EMC is playing its cards right by working with several cloud providers.

"It's about helping [customers] assess their applications, really help them decide how to best serve those applications, whether it's on-prem, off-prem, private or public," Harper said. "The strategy has to start at the application. We spend a lot of time right now with consulting, consulting on pure application assessments. They range from three-week engagements to six-month engagements depending on size and complexity and the questions customers want answered."

"It's a reality," said Steve Power, managing partner at RoundTower Technologies, a Cincinnati-based Dell EMC partner. "You check into a large enterprise account and they're already working with AWS. There's no sense in hiding it. There's no sense in telling people AWS is bad. We go in from a service standpoint and figure out which workloads are appropriate for the cloud, which ones are more appropriate for private cloud, which ones are more appropriate for a converged solution versus a hyper-converged solution, and make money on the services going in and on the hardware and software on the back end. We don't pretend it's a private cloud world, or even a hybrid cloud world. It's just the reality today. Environments are very complex."