Dell EMC Brings Microsoft Azure On-Prem For Hybrid Cloud

Dell EMC on Thursday introduced a partnership with Microsoft under which channel partners will be able to build on-premises Microsoft Azure clouds using Dell EMC technology.

The new offering, called Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, is a turnkey platform for building a hybrid cloud offering with the same look, feel, and technology as the Microsoft Azure public cloud, said Peter Cutts, senior vice president of hybrid cloud platforms at Dell EMC.

"We're leveraging three years of experience with delivering hybrid clouds including the ability to deliver the right services for on-premises and hybrid clouds," Cutts told CRN.

[Related: Dell EMC Attacks Public Cloud Cost And Complexity With Combo ITaaS Solution: Enterprise Hybrid Cloud On VxRail]

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The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack is a net-new offering from Dell EMC, particularly in how it differs from the company's Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, or EHC, Cutts said.

Customers deploying the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud need to add their own domain name space automation, firewall automation, backup and recovery capabilities, and other technologies that together form a private or hybrid cloud, he said.

"With Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, we're putting it together as an integrated offering," he said. "It's a completely Azure-based offering. We don't leverage the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud."

The new offering is also different from the Azure Pack, which Dell started shipping in 2015. The Azure Pack is not API-compatible with the Microsoft Azure public cloud, Cutts said.

The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack targets solution providers and customers who use Microsoft technology, Cutts said. It will be a stand-alone offering combining Dell EMC hyper-converged infrastructure technology with Azure, he said.

The new offering scales from four nodes, which can work with up to about 100 Azure D1 virtual machines, to 12 nodes, or about 600 Azure D1 virtual machines, Cutts said. For larger deployments, customers can purchase multiple scale outs beyond that, he said.

Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack provides a single contract support for hybrid Azure deployments, full encryption and security capabilities including the ability to tie policies to virtual machines as they are migrated to new locations, and full data protection capabilities in single tenant and multi-tenant environments.

Dell EMC is still defining the criteria for how its channel partners bring the new offering to their clients, Cutts said.

Which partners might be more attracted to the offering depends on where they are in their adoption of cloud technology, he said.

"Partners focused mainly on on-premises storage and servers may not be the best for the Azure Stack," he said. "But for partners moving up the stack, this is a nice way for them to experience the technology."

The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack is one that will be watched carefully by both cloud vendors looking to get on-premises and companies like VMware trying to reach from the outside into the public cloud, said Scott Miller, director of data center technologies at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis, Mo.-based solution provider and Dell EMC channel partner.

"This is the first outside-in approach to starting with a public cloud and then taking the technology to a private cloud," Miller told CRN. "I expect it will have a significant uptake."

Miller said the new offering shows that customers and Microsoft have come to terms with the idea that, while software-as-a-service makes sense for applications like Office 365, it doesn't make sense for a wide range of applications.

"Customers like the idea of having a cloud infrastructure on-premises without the regulatory or compliance issues brought up when looking at public clouds," he said.

The biggest use case for the Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack will likely be platform-as-a-service developers, Miller said. "Developers can develop apps on-prem, and have the flexibility to move the apps to the public cloud," he said. "But I'm guessing most apps will probably just stay in the on-prem cloud."

The actual Azure Stack in the new offering will be available to other vendors outside of Dell EMC, Cutts said. "Dell is the first one to fill out the offering," he said. "Others may participate. But obviously, we think others will not do it as well as us."

The Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack is currently available in a single-node developer edition, and in the early evaluation period for the four-node configurations, Cutts said. General availability is scheduled for the second half of 2017.