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HPE Slams Project Apex: Dell Is ‘Finally Responding’ To GreenLake

‘With Project Apex, Dell is finally responding to the strategy HPE initiated three-plus years ago when we began to build our GreenLake business,’ says HPE in a statement to CRN.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise took aim at Dell Technologies’ eagerly anticipated Project Apex everything as-a-service launch today, claiming its rival has a long way to go to catch up to HPE.

“With Project Apex, Dell is finally responding to the strategy HPE initiated three-plus years ago when we began to build our GreenLake business, and announced our company commitment to offer our portfolio as a service by 2022, and subsequently introduced HPE GreenLake Central,” said HPE in a statement provided to CRN.

A Dell spokesperson claimed that Dell has been offering flexible consumption for more than a decade with Project Apex being simply the “next chapter” in its as-a-service and cloud portfolio evolution.

“Our cloud offerings, such as Dell Technologies Cloud, have established Dell as the industry leader in cloud IT infrastructure, per IDC,” said Dell in a statement to CRN. “Project APEX brings these together into one unified effort. With our unmatched breadth of PCs, infrastructure and supporting services, we are making as-a-Service IT simpler for customers and partners.”

[Related: HPE Is ‘Years Ahead’ Of Competition In Everything As-A-Service Channel Battle: HPE GreenLake GM Keith White]

Dell said Project Apex unifies the company’s as-a-service and cloud strategies, providing a consistent experience wherever a workload runs, including on-premises, at the edge or in public clouds. Project Apex aims to simplify how customers and channel partners access Dell’s as-a-service portfolio, from servers and hyperconverged infrastructure to PCs and client offerings, starting with the new Dell Technologies Storage as a Service unveiled today.

HPE, for its part, points to its ability to meter cloud usage – the result of its acquisition of Cloud Cruiser three years ago - and its groundbreaking GreenLake Central platform as significant challenges for everything as a service competitors. GreenLake Central, for example, provides the ability to do complex cost, compliance and security analysis across the GreenLake pay per use private cloud, AWS and Microsoft Azure.

“It’s important to distinguish between Dell’s ‘new way’ to finance infrastructure and the true cloud experience on-prem that customers are really looking for, which HPE GreenLake has been providing for years,” said HPE. “At HPE, we continue to focus on our customers. Our approach includes truly automated, scalable and pay-as-you-go metered cloud services comprising compute, storage, VMs, containers, MLOps and more, in addition to a unified, operations console with HPE GreenLake Central from which customers can manage their entire hybrid IT estate. HPE GreenLake is the cloud experience that comes to you.”

HPE said GreenLake – which it touted as a “comprehensive, software driven cloud experience for today’s most demanding workloads” - has been adopted by over 850 customers. including Wells Fargo, Porsche Informatik, Nokia, Lyondell Basell with over $4 billion in total contract value.

Dell Technologies countered that its as-a-service run rate stands at $1.3 billion as of its second fiscal quarter, up 30 percent year over year. Dell Technologies says it has over 2,000 as-a-service customers and has offered many of its solution in a consumption-based manner for years.

Erik Krucker, CTO at Comport Consulting, an HPE Platinum partner, No. 333 on the CRN SP500, said HPE has a significant lead over competitors like Dell in the everything as a service market.

“HPE has a huge head start,” said Krucker. “They have been at this for quite a long while and have a very mature product offering. That gives them a competitive advantage in the marketplace. HPE has successfully brought pay per use cloud to on premise infrastructure. Customers are looking for ways to lower their operational costs and GreenLake provides them with that.”

HPE competitors are seeing the success HPE is having with GreenLake and are trying to “emulate it’ with their own everything as-a-service offerings, said Krucker. Comport is seeing strong momentum around GreenLake combined with its own ComportSecure suite of managed services. In fact, one of the big advantages HPE has with GreenLake, said Krucker, is the ability for partners to layer their own managed services on top of GreenLake.

Another advantage, he said, is GreenLake’s multivendor approach to pay per use with support for offerings like the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud Customer Edition on HPE GreenLake. “Being able to fold other third party hardware and software into GreenLake into a single pay per use line item is key to HPE GreenLake,” said Krucker. “No vendor has every single thing a customer is going to be running. HPE GreenLake has been very flexible.”

That flexible multivendor approach has been key to the success of Comport’s ComportSecure managed service with GreenLake, said Krucker. “What we are providing with ComportSecure and GreenLake is best of breed hardware along with best of breed services,” he said. “That provides customers the ability to offload time-consuming IT operations to Comport, allowing their employees to focus on higher level services that are more valuable to the business, helping to innovate the business, generate revenue and gain competitive advantage.”

HPE has been honing the channel model for GreenLake sinces 2016 when it started out as HPE Flex Capacity. That Flex Capacity offering morphed into the much-heralded GreenLake 2.0 release in 2018 with a robust 17 percent up-front rebate for partners. Partners have credited HPE with providing the training and incentives to drive pay per use on premise success for them with the 17 percent up front rebate as a key differentiator.

Dell Technologies – which launched its Dell Technologies on Demand program last year- has upped the partner incentives for its Apex launch. Dell Technologies on Demand provided partners a 10 percent upfront margin on a deal. With Project Apex and On Demand, Dell said channel partners will be eligible to receive a rebate of up to 20 percent of a deal.

“We’re announcing an increase in a front-end rebate that partners are going to be eligible for,” said Akanksha Mehrotra, vice president of marketing for Dell Technologies On Demand and services, in an interview with CRN. “It’s up to 20 percent of the committed contract value on our storage, data protection offers. On the server side it’s up to 10 percent. So it’s a pretty lucrative option for partners. Our hope is the combination of the preapproved pricing, the broad portfolio that it covers and the profit will help our channel partners drive traction with these solutions.”

HPE Senior Vice President and GreenLake Cloud Services General Manager Keith White recently told CRN that HPE is “sprinting forward” with an Everything-as-a-Service channel model that is “years ahead” of competitors like Dell Technologies.

“We are years ahead,” said White in an interview with CRN in which he pledged to triple HPE’s GreenLake channel investment for the new HPE fiscal year, which starts Nov. 1. “We have worked through a lot of the kinks. It’s easy to just say you are going to be an as-a-service company but [HPE President and CEO] Antonio [Neri] put the stake in the ground a couple of years ago [to move the complete HPE portfolio to as a service by 2022], and we are aggressively moving toward that.”

HPE is committed to delivering the best profitability for the channel for Everything as a Service, said White. “I am committed to making sure our partners are the most profitable,” he said. “Our whole mindset is how do we go through and with our partner ecosystem to deliver these to our customers. To do that, we have to not only provide them with the most profitability we have to provide them with the tools and resources required to be successful.”

Dell, for its part, said Project Apex will be the industry leading as-a-service, one stop shop offering in the world.

“It will ultimately deliver the industry’s most flexible and simplest as-a-service experience for on-premises infrastructure,” said Sam Grocott, senior vice president of product marketing at Dell Technologies. “We’ll continue to layer on horizonal capabilities around Compute as a Service, Data Protection as a Service and PC as a Service in the coming months. So we’re going to scale out our as-a-service offers across the entire portfolio. We’ll also go vertical with this as well, so look for solutions such as SAP as a Service or VDI as a Service that will start to come out as well over time.”

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