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New hybrid Dell EMC cloud aimed at rising flood of data

As enterprise data centers cope with newly generated data, the new Dell EMC cloud platform sharpens VMware tool sets to build, implement and manage storage in hybrid environments.

LAS VEGAS -- Stop me if you've heard this one before: Dell EMC wants to make it easier to manage data storage across multiple types of hybrid cloud storage.

Even as it continues to fine-tune its cloudy message, the storage vendor today added new cloud storage to kick off the Dell Tech World annual user conference. The Dell Technologies Cloud Platform provides leased storage capacity that customers managed locally. It uses Dell EMC VxBlock converged or VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure hosts for VMware vRealize cloud orchestration.

The stack implements Dell EMC Unity midrange or high-end PowerMax SAN arrays, 14th Generation Dell PowerEdge compute servers and Dell networking.

Dell is trying to adjust to the way organizations want to buy storage, said Steven Hill, a senior storage analyst at 451 Research. While Dell's cloud strategy still includes large storage arrays that EMC sold for decades, it also reflects a shift in customer preference for smaller, less complex, software-driven systems.

"It's taken them longer to do this than I would have anticipated," Hill said of the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform. "To me, the writing is on the wall. Face it, these big massive systems just aren't the way people are buying storage anymore. There's an old school that still likes things as they are ... but life goes on and you have to be able to adjust."

The goal is seamless operations between logical and physical assets in VMware private clouds and public clouds, said Matt Baker, a Dell EMC senior vice president of strategy and planning. Dell Technologies Cloud Platform should preclude the "bespoke" implementations customers have dealt with before, he said.

"This achieves a greater degree of out-of-the-box integration between two of the most important component parts of the Dell Technologies family: VMware and our underlying Dell EMC platforms," Baker said.

Pay-as-you-go option

A consumption-based option, VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, is in beta. Baker said the pay-as-you-go model is built exclusively on VxRail and Dell EMC storage. General availability is planned for later this year.

The Dell Technologies Cloud Platform is similar to Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack. The latter product pairs Azure virtualization with cloud-building tools from Dell subsidiary Pivotal Software.

Dell EMC expanded its as-a-service pricing for its flagship storage platforms, the Unity and PowerMax SAN and Dell Isilon NAS arrays. Called Cloud Storage Services, it places storage arrays at managed hosting facilities with direct connectivity to an adjacent public cloud data center. Dell said the service is available in North America and London, with a global rollout to follow.

Caitlin Gordon, a Dell EMC VP of product marketing, said the "direct connection to leverage the pubic cloud" makes Cloud Storage Services different than the vendor's previous as-a-service hardware pricing.

Could too many clouds drown Dell EMC's message?

Many organizations are using or exploring multiple clouds and hybrid clouds, and storage vendors are fine-tuning a clear cloud message. That has been the case for Dell EMC since Dell and EMC merged in 2016. As with its external storage systems, Dell EMC offers multiple cloud platforms, including several hybrid deployments. The Dell EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is mostly infrastructure as a service. Virtustream is the Dell EMC public cloud for mission-critical databases.

Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage is on-premises object storage. Customers also can buy VMware Cloud on AWS.

Baker said customers are intermixing various Dell EMC cloud storage to shift workload data back and forth between local and hybrid operating environments.

"Latency, data gravity, security: There may be a whole host of reasons why customers choose different localities," Baker said.

Dell has struggled to explain the differences between its multiple cloud storage products, Hill said.

Dell Technologies returned to the public market this year after acquiring a VMware tracking stock created from its merger with EMC. The move gave Dell full control of VMware, which generated one-fourth of Dell's overall revenue last year.

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What should Dell EMC do to distinguish between its varied cloud storage?
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