Dell Technologies World: 5 Big Things You Might Have Missed

From VMware and Apex to channel partners and edge computing, CRN breaks down five important announcements and remarks that you might have missed at Dell Technologies World 2021 this week.

The ‘New Dell’ Arrives At Dell Technologies World 2021

Dell Technologies World 2021 can most easily be summed up by one word: Apex. The general availability of Dell’s Apex portfolio sets the $94 billion infrastructure and PC giant up for the emerging consumption- and subscription-based world of IT.

Sam Grocott, senior vice president of product marketing for Dell, explained to CRN just how big Apex is for Dell Technologies – both internally and externally. “Apex is essentially the creation of the new Dell as we move forward,” Grocott said. “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.”

However, there were several major announcements, remarks and launches at Dell Technologies World that attendees might have missed or didn’t have access to. Here’s five big things that you might have missed this week at Dell Technologies World 2021.

VMware Isn’t Going Anywhere

From Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell to VMware’s Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Poonen, both companies wanted to make it crystal clear that Dell’s upcoming spin-off of VMware changes nothing in terms of go-to-market, joint innovation and the relationship for at least the next five years.

“Look, everybody wants us to continue [the partnership] because it’s clearly worked very well,” said Michael Dell. “We believe that the spin-off will drive additional growth opportunities for both Dell technologies and VMware, and at the same time, unlock significant value for stakeholders. … We believe deeply in the better together power of these two great companies. Plus, I’ll remain chairman of both companies and you can be sure I’ll be working to ensure the partnership only continues to grow.”

Dell will spin-off its 81-percent stake in VMware in the fourth quarter of 2021. However, both companies have signed a five-year commercial agreement to continue their joint product innovation and go-to-market sales strategy which includes thousands of channel partners.

Poonen, who some believe could become VMware’s new CEO, said its Dell partnership “is stronger than ever.”

“The last four or five years of working with Dell Technologies have been spectacular. And nothing should change in the next, at least five years I hope, or maybe 10 or 20 years to come,” said Poonen. “Whether it’s VARs, distributors or system integrators — those partners want us to increasingly see these engineered solutions delivered with services in this digital foundation for a multi cloud world. So the future couldn’t be brighter.”

Dell Picks A Fight With The Public Cloud

Watch out Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Dell’s Apex is now officially on the market looking to eventually take market share from public cloud providers with its new cloud-like as-a-service sales model Apex.

“We have built [Apex] to deliver the very model and the very set of capabilities that customers have received from the public cloud, yet give them all of the agility and the control that they desire to have without having to be forced to move data from on-premise to off-premise to control the things that they want,” said Jeff Clarke, chief operating officer and vice chairman of Dell.

Dell’s top executives touted Apex as an overall better IT solution for customers compared to public clouds in terms of cost, control, speed, agility and simplicity.

“The control and predictability of the model that we are building with Apex is really important to customers,” said Allison Dew, Dell Technologies’ global chief marketing officer. “We know that there are so many hidden costs in so many of these other models if you think about the public cloud, and all of these unexpected costs that customers run into -- the ability for our competitive advantage and transparent approach to pricing is something that customers are really responding well to.”

Michael Dell said this monumental shift at his company shouldn’t be worrisome to customers, channel partners or investors as Dell has reinvented itself multiple times over the past decade.

“The next step is everything as-a-service and so we‘re excited about this. It’s a whole new chapter for our company, and look, we’ve had a history of reinventing the business time and time again,” said Michael Dell. “This is just the latest version of that.”

Dell Delivers Apex And Apex Services, Channel Partners Must Adjust

Dell channel partners generate billions in sales each quarter for Dell Technologies, which has thousands of partners spanning the globe. However, Dell will be the one to deliver, own and maintain the Apex infrastructure in most cases, meaning those types of more traditional partners services will be led by Dell.

Dell said it can deliver and deploy Apex solutions in just 14 days with customer expansion available in as few as five days, with the goal of quickly implementing Apex so channel partners can focus on driving “higher-value” services on top of Apex, according to Akanksha Mehrotra, vice president of product marketing for Apex.

“Some examples we anticipate partners adding on top of Apex are consulting, residency, data migration, application or workload specific services, and maybe hybrid cloud extension from a customer’s location to a partner’s data center,” Mehrotra said.

Channel partners will eventually have access to the Apex Console, which is where customers manage their entire Apex lifecycle, enabling partners to manage the console on behalf of the customer.

However, a huge win for solution provider selling Apex is that Dell is providing partners a whopping 30 percent incentive on the committed contract value. Partners can receive up to a 30 percent incentive 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.

Dell Sets Sights At The Edge

With the influx of data being created at the edge along with the global COVID-19 pandemic forcing millions to work and learn from home, the edge is the new technology frontier Dell has its sights on.

“We’ve heard a clear feedback from our customers that the opportunities are significant with multi-cloud and edge we‘re investing heavily in those,” said Michael Dell at Dell Technologies World.

“Increasing in this new, do-anything-from-anywhere world, it’s a future that will unfold at the edge,” said Dell. “While 10 percent of data is processed outside of the data center today, 75 percent of data will be processed outside of a traditional data center or cloud by 2025. That data will be generated in the real world at the edge and to transform that data into outcomes will require real-time analytics and intelligence.”

In fact, at Dell Technologies World this week, the company unveiled its new Dell Technologies Manufacturing Edge Reference Architecture With PTC which integrates with Apex’s Private Cloud offering. The new edge reference architecture targeting the manufacturing vertical to enable companies to gain insights from workstations, computers, mobile devices and other endpoints within the manufacturing environment. The edge framework as-a-service offering enabling companies to virtualize and containerize applications.

Software, Not Hardware, Is Where Dell’s R&D Budget Is

One of the questions asked during an exclusive media and analysts Q&A session with top Dell and VMware executives: Is Dell making the right bet by “refocusing on hardware” with the selling of its software assets Boomi and VMware? Dell’s Clarke (pictured) disagreed completely with the notion that Dell is focusing its efforts more on hardware compared to software. In fact, Clarke said 80 percent of Dell’s 20,000 engineers are focused on software, backed by a whopping $14 billion in software R&D over the past three years.

“With 80 percent of them writing software, that‘s where the vast majority of the R&D dollars are,” said Clarke. Additionally, Dell’s roaring PC business is focused on software innovation as well as the company’s market-leading storage organization.

“It’s about is the marriage of hardware, software and services,” said Clarke. “We‘ve migrated up into the world of more software and more integrated services making it easier to deploy a two-tier architecture. … Whether it’s the base level operating system we’re building, or optimizing the data path for data reduction and optimizing performance -- it’s software.”

“By no means are we a hardware company where we’re going back to what you may remember us a long time ago,” said Clarke. “We’ve moved far beyond that.”