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Dell EMC cloud storage strategy needs to cut through fog

The vendor's multicloud strategy for storage was a hot topic during Dell EMC World 2017, headlined by expanded Virtustream, Elastic Cloud Storage and Azure offerings.

There was plenty of discussion at Dell EMC World 2017 about the vendor's cloud storage strategy. Dell EMC President David Goulden urged attendees to envision all their storage as a cloud, regardless of whether it resides in an on-premises array or is shipped off site.

"The first part of our strategy is to support a multicloud world to enable your companies to make the digital transformation. The second part of our strategy concerns the infrastructure the cloud runs on," Goulden said.

But Dell EMC did not provide much clarity on how users should distinguish between its overlapping -- and sometimes redundant -- cloud platforms.

"We are product-oriented today, and that's a weakness," said Sam Grocott, Dell EMC's senior vice president of marketing for storage and data protection. "We have so many ways to tier data [to the cloud] simply, but it can be confusing. We are making it a priority to work on that across storage and data protection."

One way for Dell EMC to remove confusion around its cloud strategy would be to make it more specific.

"I would say Dell EMC's cloud storage strategy is a bit foggy. They have some work to do in the area of marketing and communications. They should cut through the buzzword bingo and help customers see opportunity," said Greg Schulz, a senior advisory analyst and founder at consulting firm StorageIO in Stillwater, Minn.

The first part of our strategy is to support a multicloud world to enable your companies to make the digital transformation.
David Gouldenpresident, Dell EMC

Even people who have embraced the Dell EMC cloud may find the term a distracting buzzword. Ted Newman, head of cloud services for U.K.-based Royal Bank of Scotland, said RBS built an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service framework on top of Dell EMC Vblock storage. But despite his title and job function at RBS, Newman said he prefers the term "IT as a service" to cloud.

"I've been over the term 'cloud' for about five years now," Newman said. "What we wanted to do was take infrastructure out of the equation."

He said RBS uses the term "enterprise cloud platform," which he called "the IT equivalent of 'Bob.' It's a very generic name."

Here is our attempt to shed some light on the Dell EMC clouds.

Virtustream data centers host new cloud

Virtustream is Dell EMC's public cloud. The Virtustream public cloud is designed for mission-critical applications, such as SAP. EMC acquired Virtustream in 2015 to serve enterprises running a high concentration of applications that don't move easily to the cloud. The Virtustream software typically isn't sold directly to users. It resides in a cloud hosting portal for direct consumption by its end users.

The Virtustream suite also includes the Virtustream Storage Cloud for hyperscale object storage, the Virtustream Federal Cloud for public-sector organizations and the Virtustream Healthcare Cloud electronic medical records archive.

Dell EMC has two object storage clouds

In addition to the Virtustream Storage Cloud, Dell EMC's object storage includes the Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) platform. Dell EMC World featured a preview of ECS.Next software, focusing on advanced analytics, data protection and security. Dell EMC also introduced the ECS Dedicated Cloud Service, which allows customer data to reside as a single tenant in a Virtustream-managed data center.

Enterprise Hybrid Cloud IaaS to get a Virtustream edition

Enterprise Hybrid Cloud (EHC) is Dell EMC's turnkey IaaS platform built with VMware software and Dell EMC servers and storage. EHC runs on Dell EMC converged and hyper-converged infrastructure. It is designed to extend local, general-purpose workloads to the cloud, including major public and regional cloud service providers.

Complementing it is the Dell EMC Native Hybrid Cloud for developing and launching cloud-native applications. Both EHC and the Native Hybrid Cloud are built on VxRail hyper-converged boxes packaged with Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

Dell EMC's Goulden said the cloud storage strategy includes plans for a Virtustream edition of EHC to encompass mission-critical workloads that run in the data center. "Today, those applications require dedicated on-premises hardware in a virtualized environment," he said. "They are not running in the cloud at all."

Integrating public cloud storage stacks

Also new is Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack. Windows shops can get the software development kit as part of an on-premises hybrid cloud storage strategy, based on Microsoft Azure. The integrated system, due out later this year, incorporates Dell EMC PowerEdge servers and networking and Pivotal software.

Rounding out its cloud storage strategy, Dell EMC introduced Cloud Flex pricing for VxRail and XC Series appliances, which involves a 12-month commitment, but no upfront cash.

Next Steps

At Dell EMC World, vendor hypes digital transformation wave

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