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New Hybrid Cloud Offering From Dell Integrates With Azure Stack

The full solution should be available later this year.

Today, Dell EMC  announced a new hybrid cloud solution that allows business to take advantage of its servers and software in combination with the Microsoft Azure Stack.  

Called the Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, if offers "… a turn-key, IaaS ready platform the day of deployment with PaaS capabilities in its future as development continues," Dell EMC stated in a press release.

The timing of the announcement coincides with a milestone for Microsoft: today also marks the two-year anniversary of Microsoft's first Ignite conference in Chicago, where the company revealed plans to offer Azure Stack. While the company's vision for Azure Stack changed last year after the release of the first technical preview, Microsoft has signaled it will appear in the latter half of this year; and there are now signs it will soon see the light of day.

Dell EMC offered a key indicator today that Microsoft is on track, with the introduction of a single-node server for developers and a 4-node converged system aimed at dev and test, both of which will appear when Microsoft officially releases the software later this year.

Dell EMC is one of the infrastructure providers that Microsoft has engineering and co-development pacts with to offer Azure Stack-certified systems. In addition to Dell EMC, Microsoft is working with Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Lenovo, which have all indicated they'll have Azure Stack-based systems.

Following an interview with Dell EMC officials, it's clear that the company is taking a different approach to its Azure Stack systems than the Cloud Platform System (CPS) running Windows Azure Pack (WAP). The CPS was introduced by Dell prior to its merger with EMC. Now that the two companies are combined, EMC's influence on the Azure Stack platform is apparent. Today's announcement comes in advance of its Dell EMC World gathering, which will take place next week in Las Vegas, where officials plan to emphasize hybrid cloud.

Since the completion of the Dell-EMC merger last summer, server, network and storage infrastructure product groups have consolidated with EMC's headquarters in Hopkinton, Mass. The development of its Azure Stack appliances are now based on EMC's approach to hybrid could hardware, said Kevin Gray, Dell EMC's director of product marketing for hybrid cloud platforms.

"Our first enterprise hybrid cloud was based on the VMware vRealize Suite and all their software defined datacenter components and the virtualization," Gray said. "We build integrations to IaaS layer, things like backup and encryption as a service and we're extending that approach and model to Azure Stack. We are leveraging the partners we've had with Microsoft and the expertise we both have with hybrid cloud."

In addition to its vRealize-based offering, Dell EMC offers its Pivotal Cloud Foundry native hybrid cloud platform, which Gray said focused on enterprises and partners building cloud-native analytics modules. "We are moving this model to Azure Stack," he said.

Gray said the company isn't revealing specs at this time, but added that the entry-level system is 1-node  and doesn't come with the entire infrastructure and tooling for deployments, since it's only intended for skilled developers. It will carry a list price of $20,0000. The 4-node system will list at $300,000, but Gray declined to share anticipated street prices. The company also isn't offering details on hardware specs.

Gray explained that Dell EMC believes it will have a differentiated offering with its Azure Stack Platform is via its backup as a service offering, which is based on Dell EMC Networker and Data Domain storage. "We back up not just the data produced by the applications; we actually protect that underlying infrastructure of the Azure environment," he said. "So, all of the bits that are created and the IaaS and PaaS layer are protected, as well as the underlying infrastructure, making sure we back up the full environment."

Dell EMC's Azure Stack Platform will also offer the company's CloudLink SecureVM encryption offering. This secure VM tool is available in the Azure catalog, and enables encryption of virtual machines. This means they're portable and remain secure as they move between hosts. "That really ensures that workloads remain secure, wherever they are running in the datacenter, whether it's in public cloud or if it's the on-premises instance of Azure Stack," Gray said.

While Gray emphasized the 4-node system will be targeted for development as well, he indicated deployment-based systems will also arrive by launch time. Dell EMC will offer complete systems integration services directly and through its own channel partners, as well as Microsoft's. The company will reveal more information on its channel distribution plans in the second half of the year, Gray said.

"We are still working through our approach for channel partners," Gray said. "In fact, we expect the channel to play a big role in the sale of these systems, given the strength of the Microsoft partner ecosystem."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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