Last week at Dell Technologies World 2022, founder, chairman and CEO Michael Dell focused on concepts uniting technology and innovation, as well as the company’s new data-driven solutions and its global sustainability efforts.
As Michael Dell pointed out in his keynote on the conference’s first day, “The twin engines of human inspiration and technology together drove innovation and human progress and improved lives on a global scale. Over the past two years, technology has become even more important, even more essential.”
Let’s consider those points and how they underscore Dell’s latest offerings.
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Emphasizing the “Information” in IT
It has long been ironic to me that while the importance of digital data has increasingly been central to the value of emerging business technologies, the storage systems and solutions supporting that information are often treated as an afterthought by industry watchers and marketers.
The notion that continuing commoditization is somehow undermining storage innovation is common wisdom for many. This view even colored some analyses of Dell’s purchase of storage leader EMC in 2016, in what was then the largest acquisition in IT industry history.
The enduring value of that deal was in full force across several of Dell’s announcements last week, including enhancements to the company’s storage portfolio. Those include:
- Up to a 50% mixed workload performance boost and up to 66% greater capacity in Dell PowerStore all-flash storage, as well as deeper integration with VMware solutions, including improved VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (vVols) and end-to-end NVMe support and increased networking speeds.
- Cyber resiliency advancements including cyber vaults for traditional and mainframe deployments in Dell PowerMax enterprise all-flash storage. Software-driven operations enhancements, including multi-array smart provisioning, workload optimization, and health monitoring and remediation are designed to improve productivity. Two new NVMe-based PowerMax models can deliver up to 50% better response times in demanding application and mainframe environments.
- New file services in Dell PowerFlex software-defined infrastructure platform can support unified block and file capabilities on a single platform, enabling customers to consolidate traditional and modern workloads. PowerFlex can also simplify multi-cloud and DevOps processes with support for all major Kubernetes and container orchestration platforms, including those offered by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, SUSE and VMware.
According to Dell, these and other enhancements are the latest examples of the storage software innovations sparked by the company’s Project Alpine effort and are being provided at no cost to existing customers.
Multi-Cloud by Default
During the Day 1 keynote, Dell co-COO Chuck Whitten discussed “mega trends,” including mass adoption of multi-cloud architectures that the company believes are fundamentally impacting the industry, customers and partners. As Whitten stated, “Most companies have landed at multi-cloud by happenstance. We at Dell like to refer to it as ‘multi-cloud by default.’”
Whitten also noted that multi cloud is “quite logical” and “the reasonable arc of infrastructure innovation” and “an architectural revolution [that is] transformative for businesses.” But at the same time, “Multi-cloud ultimately needs to be organized into something much less complex … to deliver on the promise of the cloud experience, ease and agility no matter where an organization has decided to put applications and data.”
Whitten detailed a number of new solutions and partnerships designed to better secure and manage data stored both on-premises in customer data centers and in multi-cloud environments. They include:
- The first in a series of new APEX full stack as-a-service solutions that deliver a cloud experience, Dell APEX Cyber Recovery Services simplifies recovery from cyberattacks by storing critical data in secure “air gapped” vaults. Dell manages the data day-to-day and, in cases where customers suffer attacks, assists with data recovery. Dell will offer standardized configurations, simplified recovery options and consulting expertise from nearly 2,000 isolated vault solutions deployed globally.
- The company is also extending its multi-cloud ecosystem and speeding access to its data protection offerings for public clouds with the release of Dell PowerProtect Cyber Recovery for Microsoft Azure. The new service will enable customers to deploy an isolated cyber vault in the public cloud to more securely protect and isolate data from ransomware attacks and flexibly recover in the event of a cyberattack. Options include recovery within the data center, in a new Azure private network, or in an unimpacted Azure environment.
- Dell also announced CyberSense for Dell PowerProtect Cyber Recovery for AWS which is designed to enable customers to use adaptive analytics, scan metadata and complete files, and implement machine learning and forensic tools to detect, diagnose and speed data recovery. Clients can also use the service to monitor files and databases to determine if a cyberattack has occurred and identify the last known uncorrupted copy of data to speed recovery.
- Additionally, Dell announced that it will work with Snowflake to connect data stored in Dell object storage systems with the Snowflake Data Cloud. Once available, Dell and Snowflake customers will be able to use on-premises data with the Snowflake Data Cloud while either keeping data local or copying it to public clouds. The collaboration aims to improve the experience of customers operating in multi-cloud environments and help them meet data sovereignty requirements and turn data into insights. The companies will pursue product integrations and joint go-to-market efforts in the second half of 2022.
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Dell’s Solar Community Hubs
In partnership with Computer Aid, Intel and Microsoft, Dell announced its Solar Community Hubs strategy, an evolution of its established Solar Learning Labs program. Moving beyond technology access for education alone, the hubs are designed to improve access to technology, healthcare and workforce skills for communities in remote areas around the world.
Solar Community Hubs will be built with Dell solutions and plan to introduce 5G, edge computing and other services over time. Hubs will be managed by the communities they serve and will offer services designed for each community’s needs. The hubs will provide access to water and electricity, healthcare and resources for environmental preservation. Community members can also access technical skills training, entrepreneurship support, education and career guidance, and revenue-generating services to support job creation and financial sustainability.
Dell recently introduced the first Solar Community Hub in Boa Esperanca, Brazil, in partnership with the Foundation for Amazon Sustainability (FAS), bringing digital tools like Latitude Rugged, desktops, servers, projectors and Wi-Fi to community members in a dozen outlying riverside communities and Indigenous tribes. Community members, who previously traveled far for modern services and school, can now continue their education, take vocational courses, start college and prepare for the job market – in their own communities.
The hub is also designed with circularity at its core, using repurposed shipping containers, sustainably sourced wood and furniture, and solar panels so devices run primarily on renewable energy.
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Overall, Michael Dell’s reference to “the twin engines of human inspiration and technology” driving “innovation and progress” was an entirely appropriate theme for the new solutions, services and partnerships announced at Dell Technologies World 2022. Most of those offerings were understandably aimed at the businesses and other organizations the company serves.
However, Dell’s partnership with Computer Aid and its Solar Community Hubs strategy demonstrate that the company’s vision extends far beyond corporate data centers and multi-cloud infrastructures. In essence, Dell Technologies intends to improve the day-to-day lives and commercial opportunities available to people around the world.