Since its inception, Dell Technologies has had many achievements, of which it should be proud. Dell revolutionized the PC market, made its way into the enterprise data center business, and created the largest tech company of its time. However, the shifting technology industry is forcing Dell to adapt faster than ever, more than ever, and will be testing its agility. Dell’s customers have started shifting the buying pattern to subscription or usage-based cloud services. Dell took this challenge head-on and gathered market — customers, competitors, and partners — feedback to create new usage-based infrastructure offerings dubbed Project APEX. During Dell Technologies World 2021, Dell demonstrated significant progress with the availability of as-a-service infrastructure offerings. Dell’s speed from conceptualization to go-to-market with APEX services is undoubtedly impressive. This market is still shaping up, with the options morphing with time. As a tech leader, you should:
- Raise/develop an awareness of the offering lineup. You will hear that Project APEX will bring all infrastructure products in an as-a-service manner. However, not all products are available on day one and will be available eventually. To begin with, Dell primarily brings the storage services — block and file — with more services like object storage in the pipeline.
- Identify the services that fit and serve your position. APEX is an umbrella term for multiple services (e.g., Data Storage Services, Cloud Services, Flex on Demand, and Data Center Utility). Each of these services has unique differentiating characteristics. Understand when and where these fit and serve your position.
- Focus on your business and technology outcomes. You might say, “That’s obvious.” Well, you’re right. The reason you need to spend time on this is to understand whether Dell’s projected outcomes align with the outcomes your business needs. Ensure that you dig deeper into what each outcome means and how each aligns with yours. Your business needs dependable services. The onus to determine whether this transition improves or diminishes the business outcomes is on you.
- Perform technical validations before buying in. Dell, subtly, wants you not to perform the technical validations (e.g., their sales pitch: “You select the service, we deliver it to you in record time, and you pay for what you use.” Dell proposes you select the product that will deliver the service per selection criteria — performance and capacity. However, there are times when your applications specifically need a certified infrastructure stack to ensure compatibility and support. Think through such situations before getting swayed with the new offer.
- Bring your IT finance in lockstep. Understanding the technical nuances are your key strengths. Likewise, your finance team understands budgets, costs, and financial terms and conditions better. While you’re doing the technical due diligence, bring your finance team in lockstep for them to understand the financial nuances of usage, billing, and subscription terms.
- Explore and understand before you sign up. Dell hosted a basic yet interesting session: “What are the highs and lows of infrastructure usage in typical business applications and how can that seasonality take advantage of the as-a-service-based infrastructure?” It serves as food for thought. Explore the possibilities in your IT setup that can benefit from a usage-based construct.
Make honest assessments about whether this as-a-service model is right for you. While a delivery model like APEX can be beneficial in many situations, don’t treat it like a Swiss Army knife. Analyze each instance where you need technology just as you would in deciding whether public cloud is right. This as-a-service model is yet another option in your decision arsenal. Use it wisely.
Dell invited Adam Grant for a talk on “rethinking business as usual.” It was a very intriguing and insightful session. His explanation of cognitive entrenchment is eye-opening as to how it guides our actions. We can be a victim and miss capitalizing on innovation if we retreat to doing what we know best. In the tech world, every moment is a good one to rethink and challenge the status quo. Let’s rethink how we buy/consume technology.
I am sure your inquisitive minds are asking questions, and I’ll be more than happy to discuss. Let’s talk.