Dell Technologies Accelerates as-a-Service Strategy

A few hours rather than a few days this week brought several conferences to my attention. One was Dell Technologies World. I first was involved with Dell through the Influencer program for Internet of Things and Edge. Both of those groups are gone. The only people I remember are selling laptops now. Only a few years ago, Michael Dell spoke of the IoT group in his keynote. This year…nada.

However, there was still much of interest this year. Just as its competitors have been building out as-a-Service strategies, Dell Technologies has announced just such a strategy. Expect this trend to spread.

Highlights

Businesses can buy and deploy IT with a simple, consistent cloud experience across the industry’s broadest IT portfolio

News summary

  • Project APEX simplifies how Dell Technologies customers can consume IT as-a-Service
  • Dell Technologies Cloud Console gives customers a single self-service interface to manage every aspect of their cloud and as-a-Service journey
  • Dell Technologies Storage as-a-Service will be deployed and managed on-premises by Dell Technologies
  • Dell Technologies Cloud Platform advancements make cloud compute resources accessible with instance-based offerings, lowering the barrier of entry and extendingsubscription availability

Dell Technologies expands its as-a-Service capabilities with Project APEX to simplify how customers and partners access Dell technology on-demand—across storage, servers, networking, hyperconverged infrastructure, PCs and broader solutions.

Project APEX will unify the company’s as-a-Service and cloud strategies, technology offerings, and go-to-market efforts. Businesses will have a consistent as-a-Service experience wherever they run workloads including on-premises, edge locations and public clouds.

“Project APEX will give our customers choice, simplicity and a consistent experience across PCs and IT infrastructure from one trusted partner—unmatched in the industry,” said Jeff Clarke, chief operating officer and vice chairman, Dell Technologies.“We’re building upon our long history of offering on-demand technology with this initiative. Our goal is to give customersthe freedom to scale resources in ways that work best for them, so they can quickly respond to changes and focus less on IT and more on their business needs.”

“By the end of 2021, the agility and adaptability that comes with as-a-Service consumption will drive a 3X increase in demand for on-premises infrastructure delivered via flexible consumption/as-a-Service solutions,” Rick Villars, group vice president, Worldwide Research at IDC.

Dell Technologies as-a-Service and cloud advancements

The new Dell Technologies Cloud Console will provide the foundation for Project APEX and will deliver a single, seamless experience for customers to manage their cloud and as-a-Service journey. Businesses can browse the marketplace and order cloud services and as-a-Service solutions to quickly address their needs. With a few clicks, customers can deploy workloads, manage their multi-cloud resources, monitor their costs in real-time and add capabilities.

Available in the first half of next year, Dell Technologies Storage as-a-Service (STaaS) is an on-premises, as-a-Service portfolio of scalable and elastic storage resources that will offer block and file data services and a broad range of enterprise-class features. STaaS is designed for OPEX transactions and allows customers to easily manage their STaaS resources via the Dell Technologies Cloud Console.

Dell continues to expand its Dell Technologies Cloud and as-a-Service offerings with additional advances:

  • Dell Technologies Cloud Platform instance-based offerings— Customers can get started with hybrid cloud for as low as $47 per instance per month with subscription pricing, making it easy to buy and scale cloud resources with pre-defined configurations through the new Dell Technologies Cloud Console.
  • Geographic Expansions— Dell Technologies is extendingDell Technologies Cloud Platform subscription availability to the United Kingdom, France and Germany with further global expansion coming soon.
  • Dell Technologies Cloud PowerProtect for Multi-cloud— This fully-managed service helps customers protect their data and applications across public clouds in a single destination via a low latency connection to the major public clouds. Businesses save costs through the PowerProtect appliance’s deduplication technology and realize additional savings with zero egress fees when retrieving their data from Microsoft Azure.
  • Pre-approved Flex On Demand pricing— The pre-configured pricing makes it simpler for customers to select and deploy Dell Technologies solutions with a pay-per-use experience. Dell Technologies partners globally will receive a rebate up to 20% on Flex On Demand solutions.

Continued sustainability focus

Dell Technologies Project APEX will help companies retire infrastructure in a secure and environmentally friendly manner. Dell manages the return and refurbishing of used IT gear while also helping to support customers’ own sustainability goals. The company is making additional strides in achieving its Progress Made Real goals by:

  • Reselling 100% of the returned leased assets.
  • Refurbishing and reselling 89% of working assetsin the North America and EMEA regions.
  • Reselling 10% of non-working assetsto Environmental Disposal Partners who repair, reuse, resell and recycle each asset. Last year, Dell recycled 240,257 kilograms of metal, glass and plastics through this program.
  • Helping customers resell or recycle their excess hardware and prepare to return leased equipment in a secure and environmentally conscious manner through Dell Asset Resale & Recycling Services

Availability

  • Dell Technologies Cloud Console​ is available now as a public preview in the United States with EMEA availability planned for the first quarter of 2021.
  • Dell Technologies Storage as-a-Service will be available in the U.S. in the first half of 2021.
  • Dell Technologies Cloud Platform instance-based offerings with subscription pricing are available in the United States, France, Germany and the U.K. Dell Technologies Cloud PowerProtect for Multi-cloud is now available in the U.S., U.K. and Germany.
  • Flex On Demand is available in select countries in North America, Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region.

Industrial Readers—Watch Where IT Is Going

The manufacturing market is finally discovering the cloud in a big way. This reminds me of similar technologies such as Ethernet in 2003 when the market suddenly moved from “we don’t trust it” to “get me more”. Professionals in the industrial market are also testing out “edge-to-cloud” calling it Industrial Internet of Things. OPC Foundation has climbed aboard that train. We’ll see more.

But here is news that HPE has finalized its acquisition of Silver Peak, bolstering its vision of “edge-to-cloud transformation.” This vision goes far deeper and broader than IIoT, although it encompasses that…and more.

HPE announced the acquisition of Silver Peak in July. The deal totaled $925 million and brought Silver Peak into the Aruba business unit. Executives said Silver Peak’s SD-WAN [software-defined wide area network] capabilities would pair well with Aruba’s wired and wireless capabilities.

HPE president and CEO Antonio Neri called WAN transformation a crucial element of his company’s Intelligent Edge and edge-to-cloud strategy.

“Armed with a comprehensive SD-WAN portfolio with the addition of Silver Peak, we will accelerate the delivery of a true distributed cloud model and cloud experience for all apps and data wherever they live,” Neri said.

Keerti Melkote, Aruba founder and HPE’s president of Intelligent Edge, said customers want to increase branch connectivity and secure remote workers. As a result, Aruba launched a software-defined branch (SD-branch) solution in 2018 and revamped it earlier this year.

“By combining Silver Peak’s advanced SD-WAN technology with Aruba’s SD-branch and remote worker solutions, customers can simplify branch office and WAN deployments to empower remote workforces, enable cloud-connected distributed enterprises, and transform business operations without compromise,” Melkote said.

New WAN Business

Silver Peak founder and CEO David Hughes now serves as senior vice president Aruba’s WAN business. He said he looks forward to accelerating “edge-to-cloud transformation initiatives.”

“Digital transformation, cloud-first IT architectures, and the need to support a mobile work-from-anywhere workforce are driving enterprises to rethink the network edge,” Hughes said. “The combination of Silver Peak and Aruba will uniquely enable customers to realize the full transformational promise of these IT megatrends.”

Enabling Enterprise Agility In Volatile Energy Market

This news release from AVEVA reads like something I’d have written more than 10 years ago from the predecessor company about enterprise control solutions. It has taken years, two acquisitions, and the retirement of the thought leaders behind the idea, but this looks like a step in a beneficial direction.

AVEVA announced the launch of the latest enhancement to its AVEVA Unified Supply Chain platform, Real-time Crude, designed to help customers gain visibility into their business and operations in order to quickly understand how crude quality impacts their value chain.

With the Oil and Gas industry facing disruption, a lack of visibility into the supply chain has led to difficulties with reacting to market changes in real time. AVEVA Real-Time Crude, a solution developed with Schneider Electric, combines cutting-edge analytical equipment with powerful machine-learning techniques to provide rapid and reliable crude oil assays across the enterprise in a matter of minutes. Timely information leads to advantages, including more intelligent purchasing decisions, improved operational planning, better allocation of refining resources, and more certain product volume and quality predictions.

Actually, O&G is always facing disruption, so any help managers can get will surely be appreciated.

AVEVA Unified Supply Chain is a single source of knowledge enabling enterprises to share and communicate decisions between diverse teams, promoting collaboration and discussion across global locations delivering increased visibility which enables rapid reaction to changing market conditions. It comprises modules for planning, scheduling, assay management and supply distribution that can share common information promoting an understanding of the entire plant and of the business. Utilizing common data, models, and user management, it promotes collaboration and visibility across the entire supply chain.

“Given the fluctuating oil prices, volatile markets and the severe global economic downturn projected, the launch of Real-Time Crude is opportune as it addresses many of the known issues that have been plaguing the energy industry. In an industry that survives by being nimble to fluctuations in prices of crudes and products, AVEVA’s offering provides fast information on crude quality to improve efficiency, reliability and agile decision making,” said Harpreet Gulati, Senior Vice President for Planning & Operations Business Unit, AVEVA.

“Real-Time Crude is at the cutting edge of much needed developments within the volatile energy industry, and Schneider Electric and AVEVA are committed to helping customers quickly navigate these uncertain times to function safely, efficiently and reliably. This key feature of the AVEVA Unified Supply Chain demonstrates the true potential of bringing advanced analytical equipment and machine learning technologies to the forefront without being complicated. Our combined goal is to deliver innovative solutions that will not only create efficiencies but also help customers to stay ahead of the curve,” commented Matthew Carrara, Vice President – Process Analyzers and Instrumentation, Schneider Electric, Industry Business – Process Automation.

The AVEVA Unified Supply Chain platform is unique because legacy solutions use a set of point solutions that require manual data transfer between different solutions, while AVEVA’s solution is a single, unified solution that leverages common data, models, and user management to promote enterprise collaboration and visibility across the supply chain. This eliminates the need for data transfers as well as potential errors resulting from data transfers. Everyone always has completely up-to-date information. 

Enabling Enterprise Agility In Volatile Energy Market

This news release from AVEVA reads like something I’d have written more than 10 years ago from the predecessor company about enterprise control solutions. It has taken years, two acquisitions, and the retirement of the thought leaders behind the idea, but this looks like a step in a beneficial direction.

AVEVA announced the launch of the latest enhancement to its AVEVA Unified Supply Chain platform, Real-time Crude, designed to help customers gain visibility into their business and operations in order to quickly understand how crude quality impacts their value chain.

With the Oil and Gas industry facing disruption, a lack of visibility into the supply chain has led to difficulties with reacting to market changes in real time. AVEVA Real-Time Crude, a solution developed with Schneider Electric, combines cutting-edge analytical equipment with powerful machine-learning techniques to provide rapid and reliable crude oil assays across the enterprise in a matter of minutes. Timely information leads to advantages, including more intelligent purchasing decisions, improved operational planning, better allocation of refining resources, and more certain product volume and quality predictions.

Actually, O&G is always facing disruption, so any help managers can get will surely be appreciated.

AVEVA Unified Supply Chain is a single source of knowledge enabling enterprises to share and communicate decisions between diverse teams, promoting collaboration and discussion across global locations delivering increased visibility which enables rapid reaction to changing market conditions. It comprises modules for planning, scheduling, assay management and supply distribution that can share common information promoting an understanding of the entire plant and of the business. Utilizing common data, models, and user management, it promotes collaboration and visibility across the entire supply chain.

“Given the fluctuating oil prices, volatile markets and the severe global economic downturn projected, the launch of Real-Time Crude is opportune as it addresses many of the known issues that have been plaguing the energy industry. In an industry that survives by being nimble to fluctuations in prices of crudes and products, AVEVA’s offering provides fast information on crude quality to improve efficiency, reliability and agile decision making,” said Harpreet Gulati, Senior Vice President for Planning & Operations Business Unit, AVEVA.

“Real-Time Crude is at the cutting edge of much needed developments within the volatile energy industry, and Schneider Electric and AVEVA are committed to helping customers quickly navigate these uncertain times to function safely, efficiently and reliably. This key feature of the AVEVA Unified Supply Chain demonstrates the true potential of bringing advanced analytical equipment and machine learning technologies to the forefront without being complicated. Our combined goal is to deliver innovative solutions that will not only create efficiencies but also help customers to stay ahead of the curve,” commented Matthew Carrara, Vice President – Process Analyzers and Instrumentation, Schneider Electric, Industry Business – Process Automation.

The AVEVA Unified Supply Chain platform is unique because legacy solutions use a set of point solutions that require manual data transfer between different solutions, while AVEVA’s solution is a single, unified solution that leverages common data, models, and user management to promote enterprise collaboration and visibility across the supply chain. This eliminates the need for data transfers as well as potential errors resulting from data transfers. Everyone always has completely up-to-date information. 

AVEVA Unified Supply Chain can help improve and optimize workflows in small and large enterprises. Flexible and modern integration mechanisms make working with existing business systems and processes simple, providing easy access to underlying data and results, while still retaining the security and versioning model used to ensure consistency between colleagues.

bp and Microsoft Form Strategic Energy Innovation Partnership

This is one of a steady stream of announcements coming my way about companies joining one or another of the cloud services. That is still big business.

bp and Microsoft Corp. have announced that they have agreed to collaborate as strategic partners to further digital transformation in energy systems and advance the net zero carbon goals of both companies. This includes a co-innovation effort focused on digital solutions, the continued use of Microsoft Azure as a cloud-based solution for bp infrastructure, and bp supplying renewable energy to help Microsoft meet its 2025 renewable energy goals.

“bp is determined to get to net zero and to help the world do the same. No one can do it alone – partnerships with leading companies like Microsoft, with aligned ambitions, is going to be key to achieving this,” said William Lin, bp executive vice president for regions, cities and solutions. “By bringing our complementary skills and experience together, we are not only helping each other achieve our decarbonization ambitions but also creating opportunities to support others on their journey towards reducing carbon emissions.”

“bp shares our vision for a net zero carbon future, and we are committed to working together to drive reductions in carbon emissions and fulfil demand with new renewable energy sources,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business. “A strategic partnership such as this enables each organization to bring its unique expertise for industry-leading change and the potential to positively impact billions of lives around the world.”

Earlier this year, bp announced its ambition to become a net zero emissions company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world reach net zero. By the end of the decade, it aims to have developed around 50 gigawatts of net renewable generating capacity – a 20-fold increase on what it has previously developed, increased annual low carbon investment 10-fold to around $5 billion and cut oil and gas production by 40%. In January 2020, Microsoft announced its goal to be carbon negative by 2030 and remove more carbon from the environment than it has emitted since its founding by 2050. Today’s announcements build on the potential that both companies see in working together to help deliver a net zero carbon future.

Co-innovation

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by bp and Microsoft recognizes the capabilities that each company can provide to accelerate progress towards their sustainability goals and help the world decarbonize. Their co-innovation effort will initially be focused on four areas that combine Microsoft’s digital expertise with bp’s deep understanding of energy markets:

Smart and clean cities – identifying synergies between Microsoft’s ‘Smart Cities’ initiative and bp’s ‘Clean Cities’ vision, with a goal of identifying areas for strategic collaboration to help cities achieve their sustainability aims.

Clean energy parks – co-development of innovative, clean energy parks with an ecosystem of low carbon technologies such as carbon capture use and storage (CCUS) to prevent or reduce emissions.

Consumer energy – exploring innovative ways to harness the power of data-driven, personalized, actionable insights to empower energy consumers to manage their home energy use and reduce carbon emissions.

Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) solutions – delivering an ‘intelligent edge’ of capabilities to bp production and operations facilities.

For both bp and Microsoft, low carbon is part of a wider sustainability agenda and they aim to deepen collaboration in this area over time.

Microsoft to bring bp further into the cloud

As part of bp’s cloud-first IT approach, the company has extended its agreement to use Microsoft Azure cloud services as a strategic platform. This expands on bp’s existing relationship with Microsoft, which helped accelerate the digitization of bp infrastructure and operations, while Microsoft 365 enabled greater collaboration and remote working productivity during the COVID-19 response.

Utilizing Microsoft Azure cloud enables bp to access a broad and deep portfolio of cloud services, including machine learning with Azure Digital Twins, data analytics, security and more, to gain greater insights, drive significant optimization opportunities and transform business processes.

bp to supply renewable energy to help power the Microsoft cloud

Microsoft and bp have signed a framework agreement for renewable energy projects that aims to provide renewable energy to help power Microsoft’s datacenters. bp will supply renewable energy to Microsoft across multiple countries and regions including the US, Europe and Latin America. The agreement contributes to Microsoft’s 100% renewable energy goal by 2025.

This partnership reflects the environmental and economic benefits of companies like bp and Microsoft working together to carve out a more sustainable future.

Here Is What You Can Do With Your Data

In the beginning were data. Increasing amounts of data. But what good is a storehouse filled with data? Especially when you have to build additional storehouses to hold more data?

We all know that this is just a hole to throw good money into unless we can reap benefits from the data.

John Burton, CEO of Ursa Leo, recently gave some time to me to explain what this new company is up to. And it’s pretty cool. It begins with data formed into a digital twin of the factory, oil rig, equipment, and the like. But they asked how can company managers and operators reap benefits from their data? The company began by focusing on visual representations of the data. It hired engineers from the gaming industry to show photo realistic reproductions of the plant, equipment, building, and so on. Think things like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality brought to life by the latest in gaming technology.

They develop on the Unity gaming engine that is designed to run on just about anything (derivative of gaming industry). So, for example, you can get a bird’s eye view of the factory. Show sensors perhaps as green dots. Zoom in to see sensors; zoom in again for ever greater levels of detail including sensor data. It is a  simple screen showing IoT data from sensors and asset data bases. It’s spatially related. The model resides in the cloud, so the same view and information is available to everyone making it great for remote maintenance support, for example, also training and remote control.

Visualization includes x-ray vision, rewind/replay events, “make pieces of equipment fly apart, visualize fluid flow, heat maps (like temperature of gas for example).

Recently, the company announced that it has closed its Seed Round B and raised $725K. The round was led by Keiretsu Forum and Bay Angels with additional private investors. As UrsaLeo continues to grow, the money will be used to expand operations into manufacturing and building management, further product development with collaboration and remote control modes, and enhance the company’s new social distancing technology.

With the closing of the Seed B, the company also announced the hiring of Michael Uribe and Alina Verdiyan as Senior Vice Presidents. Michael will lead the Building Information Management Division and work with developers and building operators to bring cutting edge 3D technology to public spaces. Alina will lead the Manufacturing Division and have worldwide responsibility for dedicated sales, marketing, and operations.

“The UrsaLeo team and traction they’ve achieved with early customers signals an opportunity for rapid growth in valuation,” said Chandika Mendis of Bay Angels. “With the adoption of social distancing technology and digital twinning, one of the hottest sectors at the moment, enterprise software that helps to simplify problem solving in challenging times is an attractive investment. We look forward to tracking their success.”

Why Invest in DataOps?

DataOps began popping onto my radar last fall. First there was a startup of former Kepware people developing DataOps for manufacturing enterprises, and then it had a featured role at an IT conference.

I have mentioned the two previously, which attracted the attention of Kevin E. Kline, who is working with Sentry One. He has a heck of a bio—Principal Program Manager, Bestselling author of SQL in a Nutshell, Founder & President Emeritus, PASS.Org, and a Microsoft MVP since 2003. He pointed me to a blog he had written that explains much about the topic. 

These passages are lifted from that blog to give you a taste. Check out the entire post for more details. Here is a description.

DataOps is a collaborative practice that improves integration, reliability, and delivery of data across the enterprise. It builds on the foundation of strong DevOps processes. Like DevOps, DataOps fosters communication between business functions like data platform, IT operations, business analytics, engineering, and data science. It focuses on streamlining and automating the data pipeline throughout the data lifecycle:

  • Data integration—simplifying the process of connecting to disparate data sources
  • Data validation—testing data to ensure that business decisions are supported by accurate information
  • Metadata management—maintaining a clear understanding of the topography of the data estate, origin, dependencies, and how the data has changes over time
  • Observability—capturing granular insights about data systems along with rich context to help DataOps teams better understand system behavior and performance

DataOps paves the way for effective data operations and a reliable data pipeline, delivering information that people trust with shorter development and delivery cycles.

This part discusses benefits. Later he discusses obstacles.

4 Benefits of DataOps Maturity

1. Collaboration

Terms that refer to effective collaboration are alignment, tearing down silos, “synergy,” and a newer term—interlock. These terms are prevalent in business because getting them right creates a force multiplier across departments. Imagine being in a rowboat with 10 other people, and none of them are rowing in the same direction. You might never get to where you’re trying to go.

A mature DataOps practice promotes up-front planning and construction, then automated ongoing execution. In other words, teams work together to define what will happen, and various software tools ensure that it happens the same way every time.

2. Reliability

Similar to the benefit of collaboration, the automation of data and analytics operations removes a potential element of human unpredictability. We, as human beings, are capable of great things like free thought and reason. These abilities serve us well in many situations. However, they can introduce problems when dealing with repetitive processes that must always follow the same steps.

3. Adaptability

With a mature, documented, and automated DataOps process, plans to introduce change require fewer hands, less time, and a lower probability of introducing errors. Using this approach also makes it easier to adapt testing procedures. This effectively reduces the time it takes to move from development to production for changes.

4. Agility

DevOps and DataOps have emerged from Agile project management practices. Because of those roots, agility becomes table stakes in DataOps processes. Data teams that already practice Agile methodologies will find it easier to define, implement, and mature their DataOps practice.