Dell EMC adds new pricing model and configuration options for Azure Stack
@DellEMC is updating its @Azure Stack on-premises private cloud infrastructure offering. Azure Stack is basically @Microsoft Corp.’s Azure cloud wrapped up in a box. It’s designed to be deployed by customers in their own data centers so they can create a fully compatible version of Azure, a strategy Microsoft refers to as the “One Azure Ecosystem.” Azure Stack permits users, for example, to create new applications on premises and easily migrate them to the Azure cloud, or split applications between the public cloud and their own data center for capacity management or regulatory compliance purposes. Applications stored on-premises and in the cloud can also access each other’s data. Dell EMC is just one company that sells integrated systems for Azure Stack, along with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Co., Lenovo Group Ltd., Cisco Systems Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. At Microsoft’s Inspire conference in Las Vegas Monday, Dell EMC said it was extending its Cloud Flex program to the Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack. Cloud Flex is a cost structure that includes monthly payments with zero cash upfront, and Dell EMC believes it will make it easier for its partners to try out Azure Stack. The company said it has seen a lot of interest from small and midsized companies in the platform, so it wants to give them the chance to spread the cost out over time to reduce the barrier to entry. “By extending Cloud Flex to the Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, we are responding to our customers’ request for a consumption solution that drives lower costs, the ability to right-size technology and facilitates a smooth transition to hybrid cloud,” Paul Galjan, senior director of Microsoft Hybrid Cloud at Dell EMC, said in a blog post Monday. Galjan also explained that the company has seen widespread adoption of its Azure Stack offering, and that many of these customers have asked for greater flexibility on the hardware side. Responding to those requests, the company is now offering an all-flash VxRack Azure Stack configuration option, including 25G top of rack switches. This new configuration delivers a lighter footprint than before, Galjan said, though the company will continue to offer hybrid versions of the stack as well. Dell EMC has also added a new Automated HCI Patch and Update feature, available in preview. This is a feature that’s unique to Dell EMC’s platform, since no other Azure Stack offers it, Galjan said. The feature is important because patching and updates are extremely time consuming because each node must be brought in and out of maintenance mode individually, and this involves multiple steps for each node, the executive explained. “Each hardware vendor provides step-by-step guidance on how to do this, and the process takes several hours to complete,” Galjan said. “Dell EMC’s exclusive orchestration tool allows customers to update the firmware on their entire VxRack AS scale unit in one step.” One final update from Dell EMC sees its Secure VM encryption offering integrated with Azure Stack, available via the Azure Stack marketplace. With Secure VM, admins can enable end-to-end encryption for both private and public clouds, Galjan said. Today’s updates might be relatively minor, but they’re encouraging for two reasons, said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc. First, the updates give CXOs confidence that Microsoft’s partner community is committed to supporting Azure Stack. Second, they show that Dell itself has enough traction to invest in the next revision of Azure Stack’s hardware specifications. “This is what CXOs want to see from partners, and it’s good for both Microsoft and Dell that they’re delivering this,” Mueller said.