Browsing LinkedIn last evening, I noticed a post announcing Dell Technologies’ APEX Block Storage for Microsoft Azure. Clicking through I discovered the entry-level pricing to be $1,000,000. Is this a typo or what Dell expects customers to pay?
(update – it appears Dell Tech has set more realistic pricing at $7,160 per year)
In May 2023, Dell Technologies announced APEX Block Storage for AWS. We covered the details in a blog post that highlights how the solution was simply a rebrand of the PowerFlex for AWS offering that had been in AWS for a few years. PowerFlex itself is the rebranding of ScaleIO.
Delivering storage solutions in the public cloud is the goal of Project Alpine, first announced in January 2022. As a software solution, ScaleIO is a good choice to transition to the cloud first, as it doesn’t have hardware dependencies and can provide resiliency through the scaling of multiple virtual instances and storage.
After seeing the announcement of APEX Block Storage for Azure, I was surprised to click through and find the quoted minimum offering for one-, two- or three-year subscriptions to be a chunky $1 million.
What do I get for my money? Well, obviously, a scalable and high-performing storage solution, but the marketplace description doesn’t say much more. Clearly, I’d need to check with a salesperson to go further.
The Architect’s View®
Dell Technologies is missing the point of the public cloud ethos and the way in which customers want to engage. Even if the $1,000,000 figure is a typo, customers may simply click onto another solution and walk away, because the marketplace entry provides very little information. If this figure is correct, then more detail is required to know what a customer gets for this substantial amount of money.
Unfortunately, though, there’s a bigger picture issue here. Any public cloud solutions should offer scalability, price and consumption granularity, clear documentation on service metrics, SLAs, and availability characteristics. As a customer, I should be able to buy one TB or one hundred TB of storage and only pay for what I use. All of that needs to be possible with a credit card and a few clicks of a mouse.
Neither this product offering, nor the AWS equivalent give me details on pricing. Everything is a sales engagement. This is not the way the public cloud works.
So, what is Dell Technologies’ strategy here? Does the company not believe that the public cloud is a profitable market for the future? Are the APEX Block Storage offerings for AWS and Azure just a marketing tick box?
We have to believe that Dell Technologies wants cloud storage to be successful. The wider market (Silk, Volumez, Lightbits Labs and all the container-native storage vendors) thinks there’s a business here, but crucially, these solutions have been either developed with the public cloud in mind, or significantly adapted for the public cloud model.
As we said in May 2022, Dell Technologies needs a better hybrid cloud strategy. However, we don’t think the company believes in the cloud model, as it takes away from hardware sales, which is the core of the Dell business. Convincing customers to use APEX storage solutions in the public cloud looks set to be a huge challenge to overcome.
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