Dell Apex Takes On HPE GreenLake, Public Clouds

‘Dell is coming in with a second, but better strategy with Apex,’ says Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group.


A “new” Dell Technologies has arrived with the general availability of Apex unveiled today at Dell Technologies World. Dell is firmly planting its channel as-a-service stake in the ground by providing partners a market leading 30 percent incentive on Apex deals with the goal of taking share from the likes of HPE GreenLake and public cloud providers in the new hybrid cloud era.

“Apex is essentially the creation of the new Dell as we move forward,” said Sam Grocott, senior vice president of product marketing for Dell in an interview with CRN. “We’re transforming internally every facet of the business, as well as externally, as we drive this change to as-a-service consumption model for our entire portfolio. This is a very, very important moment for Dell Technologies from a channel standpoint.”

The $94 billion Round Rock, Texas-based infrastructure and PC giant unveiled today its new Apex portfolio of as-a-service offerings focused on rapid hybrid cloud deployment in just 14 days, reducing IT complexity and driving scale unlike ever before. Channel partners can receive up to a whopping 30 percent incentive on the committed contract value when selling Dell’s new Apex Data Storage Services or Apex Cloud Services, while Apex Custom Solutions offers partners up to a 20 percent incentive.

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Scott Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Waltham, Mass.-based Dell Titanium partner, said Dell’s Apex appears to be more lucrative for channel partners compared to HPE’s GreenLake as-a-service offerings, which provides partners a 17 percent upfront rebate. Although HPE GreenLake hit the market several years ago, Winslow said Dell’s Apex has several advantages and isn’t too late to market.

“Dell’s definitely not too late behind GreenLake. Dell has the advantage of scale. They’re nearly a $100 billion company. So sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to let other people take the lead to see what kinds of things are successful and what things are challenging,” said Winslow. “Dell is coming in with a second, but better strategy with Apex. They have a good handle on the fact that their revenue in this as-a-service area is going to grow and they need a program to capture it. Dell is going to be very focused on this in the second half of the year, so away we go.”

Apex Data Storage Services

The new Apex Data Storage Services is Dell’s as-a-service portfolio of scalable and elastic storage resources where customers select the type of data service – such as block or file -- performance tier, base capacity, subscription term and location -- such as in a data center, edge or colocation facility. Customers pay only for what they use with single rate transparency and no overages. The turnkey infrastructure is owned and maintained by Dell.

“They’re paying for this at a single rate, with no surge pricing and no overage penalties,” said Akanksha Mehrotra, vice president of product marketing for Apex. “This is an outcome-based way to precure technology for their data center as simply as you would provision resources in a public cloud.”

Michael Norring, CEO and president of GCSIT, a Seattle-based Dell Platinum partner, said Dell’s Apex Data Storage Services is what customers are truly seeking in the market compared to the public cloud.

“A lot of the interest in the public cloud is the ability to scale. That’s not something Dell really had effectively in the past. What Apex allows Dell to do is add on incrementally at scale as oppose to do big data storage projects,” said Norring. “Apex fits really well into the scaling requirements we’re hearing from our customers. Storage is increasing exponentially within organizations. This is where they run into trouble because customers are constantly having to buy new storage arrays for their ever-increasing data levels. Then when they try to go the public cloud route, they quickly discover it’s extremely expensive to have a lot of data that you’re constantly using and pulling if it’s residing in the cloud.”

Norring said what customers are really looking for today is a hybrid model like Apex, “where the data that they’re working on doesn’t reside in the cloud function. Then secondarily, anything that they don’t access often or is required by cloud-based applications, they can store in the cloud. When I look at Project Apex, it really demonstrates Dell’s understanding of what customers are looking for. The reality is they are living in the hybrid cloud.”

Dell says Apex Data Storage Services take just 14 days for delivery, meaning from the point of subscription to delivery and installations. “I don’t know how they accomplished that, but that’s a very impressive play,” Norring said. “That is an incredibly fast way of getting that data in place for sure.”

Apex Cloud Services, Custom Solutions, Console

At Dell Technologies World Digital Experience 2021 today, the company also unveiled its new Apex Cloud Services and Apex Custom Solutions.

Apex Cloud Services “brings the power of cloud to wherever it’s needed,” said Dell’s Mehrotra, targeting customers who are looking for infrastructure to help bridge the gap between resources on-premises and those in public clouds so they can run applications securely in a multi-cloud world. The offer includes two flavors: Apex Hybrid Cloud and Apex Private Cloud, which both include integrated compute, storage and networking resources with support for both traditional and cloud-native applications.

“Customers can subscribe to either a private or a hybrid cloud based on the level of control they want and operational consistency that they’re seeking. It’s a simple subscription process,” said Mehrotra.

Apex Custom Solutions is Dell’s more flexible as-a-service offering that allows customers to create their own on-demand as-a-service IT environment, compared to the more turnkey Apex Cloud Services. Apex Custom Solutions includes Apex Flex on Demand for all Dell Technologies infrastructure, as well as Apex Data Center Utility which adds an additional level of flexibility through custom metering and manage services applied across the data center.

“Apex Flex on Demand is our premier flexibly consumption solution that delivers elastic capacity and pay-per-use across the entire infrastructure portfolio. So the customer selects a product from our entire infrastructure portfolio – server, storge, data protection etc. -- then selects the right level of services and capacity,” said Mehrotra. “With Flex-On-Demand, we will turn that entire environment into pay-per-use. With Data Center Utility, it’s even more flexible and they can adapt that across their entire data center portfolio.”

The final Apex portfolio launch at Dell Technologies World today is the Apex Console, a self-service platform where customers manage their entire Apex lifecycle.

Customer use the console to identify and subscribe to Apex services that map their needs while Dell matches the customer with technology and services to deliver the desired outcomes. The Apex Console simplifies IT by providing monitoring and management of Apex services, while giving customer access to usage and spending reports.

Apex Ahead Of HPE GreenLake, Public Clouds

When comparing Apex against the public cloud, Dell’s Grocott said Apex gives business’ better control of IT with the same simplicity and agility as public cloud providers.

“Being able to tune up resources up and down, elastically scale – whether its storage or compute or cloud – we’ve got that built-in Apex as well. The control aspect is critical. Too often organizations are faced with a false choice, ‘To get simple and agile, you got to go to the public cloud. You can’t do that on-premise.’ When businesses do that, they have to essentially give over the keys to the kingdom to the public cloud and the control point of their data, and the governance and security of that over to the public cloud,” Grocott said. “There’s a better way with Apex where you can achieve simplicity and agility while not having to give up control.”

Additionally, with up to 30 percent incentives for partners on Apex deals, Dell is becoming the market leader in terms of channel as-a-service profitability.

“If you look at that incentive across the industry, we’re really putting our money where our mouth is,” said Grocott. “If you benchmark that 30 percent incentive across the industry, it is definitely market leading from a partner go-to-market standpoint.”

All products in Dell Technologies massive portfolio – from servers and storage to PCs and cloud – will eventually become part of Apex.

“We’re going to be talking Apex for many many years to come because it’s such a strategic pivot for the company,” Grocott said. “Our commitment to as-a-service to our partners is to participate jointly together to do this. This is going to be a continuous drumbeat of as-a-service technology and services that we’re going to roll out this year and years to come.”

Dell Technologies World Digital Experience 2021 runs from May 5 to May 6.