Dell EMC World 2017 – Dell Technologies Cloud Strategy Session Notes

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell EMC World 2017.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell EMC via the Dell EMC Elect program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

I attended a media and influencer session covering Dell EMC’s Cloud Strategy. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay for the entire session, but I thought these notes might be useful for folks out there interested in Dell EMC’s approach to this somewhat hot topic.


Cloud Strategy Overview

Jeremy Burton comes on stage. “I’m very much the warmup act”. Talks briefly about Dell’s application-centric view of the world:

  • Mission-critical applications – IO intensive, requiring guarantees of resiliency
  • General-purpose applications
  • Cloud-native applications

It’s a short rehash of David Goulden’s deck from yesterday – you can find my coverage of that here.


Cloud Strategy Discussion

There’s then a panel, moderated by Matt Baker (Senior Vice President, Strategy and Planning, Dell EMC), and comprised of:


What have we learned from customers over the past decade?

DG: “Cloud isn’t a place, it’s where you’re doing things. ITaaS – that’s the simple definition. Then the whole IT landscape is moving to a cloud operating model. Always have to marry it back to customers’ applications. You need to have applications that enhance the business. Take customers on the journey.

PG: The pieces are really coming together. Virtualised compute, SDDC, CloudFoundation putting the pieces together. Converged and HCI. Validated designs and EHC. We have all the layers at a component level through to a complete integrated solution for private cloud that can be extended to the public cloud. University example where they’re operating 50/50 public and private. Announced integration of vRealize with virtustream. It’s now all realisable.
Developers are ultimately the end consumers of cloud.

JW: New set of workloads are happening. E.g. Bosch. IoT? NSX helped them, as did vSphere, EHC and PCF.
Rodney, you created a public cloud for demanding environments? How?

RR: Determined that the last thing the world needed was another sub-scale AWS. Solved a different engineering problem. Modernising the applications will happen eventually. No reason you can’t use automation and true cloud multi-tenancy for these applications. Break resources into highly granular components. Run higher utilisation per host, allowing pricing power of a public cloud. Still use throughput control providing latency guarantees.


What about the notion of locality? Flexible consumption options? What’s its role?

DG: Logical extension of cloud operating model. IT should be able to buy its infrastructure based on use too. Traditional models of acquisition and ownership are being challenged.

PG: NSX, heavily favoured subscription model. Huge bias that on-premises is perpetual. That is changing.
NSX is a perfect match for solving stumbling blocks to cloud adoption. Can I talk for an hour about this? We’ve seen an inflection point. Ability to move networking functions into software. Integral part of what they’re doing.

JW: NSX integration is important in PCF. Figuring out this stuff is hard. NSX-T being integrated with PCF. Vital to application / platform approach.

PG: Cloud has been a leader in modern application development aspects.

JW: We thought we wanted cloud, what we really wanted was cloud applications.


What about the notion of community clouds. What role do verticals play in what you’re doing at virtustream?

RR: Mission-critical applications in cloud is relatively new space. Moniker associated with SAP, but run 1000s of applicationss. Starting to “verticalise” – introducing a healthcare vertical. “Hybrid-washing is the new cloud-washing”. Mission critical in the cloud will be a $25-30B segment. Federal, public sector …


[Questions from the floor]

Where does DevOps fit in?

JW: Continuous ops, deployment, update. Took an app-centric view of developers infrastructure.

PG: Developers wouldn’t go to a devops conference. They’re not motivated to be operations people. They want to automate stuff to get out of the business of ops. PCF is built for Day 2 operations. Developer to Operations is measured in minutes. Home Depot, Comcast operating at scale.


What are you thinking about public clouds? You’re competing and working with them? Where do they really fit?

PG: Lead partners for Pivotal are AWS, IBM, Azure and Google. Cross-cloud strategy is helping them embrace the energy. The right answer is a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy moving forward. Are you going to bet on one cloud only?


Cost dynamics of that approach? Want to reduce the friction across those environments.

DG: Dell EMC will be the provider of the infrastructure. Be the company that solutions across Dell Technologies (e.g. EHC). On-premises marketplace is a huge opportunity.  As much cooperative as it is competitive.

PG: No one else has these relationships with the big providers.

RR: We get this a lot. It’s all about the use case. There are certain workloads that make the most sense to be placed in a hyper scale public cloud.


If I’m a developer for a new application today, I care about APIs and data, not infrastructure. We’re still playing with old technology – VMs / containers. Nothing like server less has emerged in the private space.

JW: The PCF paradigm – here’s the code I want to run, the services I want to bind it to. Bringing Spring CloudFunction to the Pivotal stack.

PG: Our objective is to make infrastructure frictionless, regardless of location.
David was talking about differences between SMB and Enterprise. Given the differences, how are you guys approaching SMB from a cloud perspective. And how are they using it?

PG: Some SMB customers think they’re just not at scale, so they don’t want to run infrastructure. Powerful GTM for Dell. Certain industries, it’s just not going to happen. Not one size fits all.

RR: Market segmentation will play significantly here.


People can be irrational. Enterprises are looking for a straightforward solution. What you’re collectively proposing may seem complex. What do you think?

PG: Initial uptake of public cloud was based on easy, not cost. We’ve now finished the easy stack in private. What’s my business model? Industry constraints? Cost options? Now you can pick the best of both.

RR: If you’re going to have a holistic solution, it is a challenge to simplify the message. Large business is where the technical idealist goes to die.

DG: It’s not a terribly complicated matrix. You might just use Enterprise Hybrid Cloud and public cloud. In each of these segments, there are complete solutions.

MB: It’s been much simplified, and we want to show you as an audience the complete solution. Partners and sales people make the choice a bit simpler when working with customers. Far simpler than it has been in the past.


Where do you think Boomi fits in this?

JW: PCF integration just announced.

DG: Haven’t met a customer who doesn’t need it.

RR: Working with Boomi to integrate with virtustream blueprint technologies and integrating into virtustream platform

And that’s a wrap. I unfortunately missed the customer discussion between Tom Roloff (Senior Vice President, Business & IT Transformation) and Ted Newman (Head of Cloud Services, Royal Bank of Scotland) and the “Cloud Strategy Realized” panel with:



Everyone says cloud (of whatever type) is hard. And they’re right. A few people made a big point about the focus on private cloud by Dell EMC in one of the keynotes this week. I think they’re missing the point though. Amazon will always tell you that public is best. And probably by 2025 when most applications are cloud-native, this will absolutely be true. But in the meantime, there are a shedload of enterprises and small businesses running legacy applications that don’t necessarily translate well to public cloud infrastructure. Or they can be serviced more efficiently in a private cloud scenario. I don’t have a problem with this approach at all. Dell EMC aren’t stupid. They have virtustream, and they’re working mighty hard to make sure their hybrid story is a good one. People get this idea that vendors have to be everything to everyone and when that doesn’t happen, they seem to get a bit upset. Public cloud is clearly a solid way forward for a lot of companies and their applications, but it’s not the only one. Just like not everyone is going to be a hyperscaler, not everyone is going to go all in on public cloud. I’m okay with that. And Dell EMC may change their mind next year too. If you’re looking an alternative viewpoint, you could have a look at this article on El Reg. In any case, the part of the session I attended was informative. 4 stars.