By Charles King, Pund-IT® June 9, 2021
Strategic adjustments are vital to any organization’s survival, especially in the IT industry where the pace of technological change can blindside even well-prepared companies. Bold or unconventional new initiatives require additional care since they often require workers and business units to adapt to unfamiliar processes and practices. The situation for a company’s channel and other partners can be even more unsettling, especially if they stand outside typical lines of communication.
Keeping partners well-informed about planned shifts is obviously smart from a business perspective, so it was not surprising that during the recent Dell Technologies World (DTW) conference, the company devoted considerable time to discussing how its new APEX as-a-Service will impact partners. Let’s look more closely at Dell’s plans.
Dell Technologies APEX: as-a-Service enhances customer experience
To begin, what exactly is APEX? Announced last October, APEX is designed to fundamentally shift Dell’s focus from selling commercial (business) hardware and software products to delivering as-a-Service (aaS) solutions.
At DTW, the company introduced APEX Infrastructure, Hybrid and Private Cloud, and Custom Solutions to enable and simplify digital transformations. APEX Custom Solutions include Flex on Demand, a consumption-based offering that was launched 5 years ago and is now available across Dell’s entire infrastructure portfolio.
APEX solutions are available directly through Dell Technologies and the company’s strategic partners can also offer their customers the flexibility of elastic capacity and the economy of paying only for the buffer capacity used each month. As a result, customers can align and scale the cost of their IT solutions with technology consumption requirements and budget availability.
APEX aims to extend that same model across all the company’s product portfolios, including servers, storage, networking and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) offerings. Solutions designed for specific vertical industries and emerging use cases, like edge computing and artificial intelligence (AI) are also included. Customers can easily and rapidly access, update and manage their IT environments and contracts through the new Dell APEX Console.
Practically speaking, APEX alters IT acquisition, management and maintenance from a costly and often unpredictable CAPEX process to a predictable, dependable and highly flexible OPEX model. At the same time, it will essentially evolve Dell’s focus from developing and delivering physical products to ensuring the continuity and quality of clients’ experiences focused on outcomes That may seem to some like a mere rhetorical gambit, but it will require everyone involved to rethink the way they interact with and serve Dell’s customers.
APEX and partner evolution
Those necessary adjustments in customer engagements also apply to Dell’s partner communities, including business-focused channel partners. In fact, how and how well partners incorporate this new services-first approach will be vital to the success of APEX.
Why so? As noted by Chairman and CEO Michael Dell and other executives during DTW, partners helped drive over half of the company’s $94.224B revenues during FY2021. Just as importantly, Dell Technologies partners represent the company in their engagements with tens of thousands of businesses worldwide. Ensuring that partners, and through them customers are on the same page when it comes to APEX could not be more important.
How important? DTW featured a keynote focused entirely on the company’s partner community, hosted by Global Channel Chief, Rola Dagher and SVP of Global Alliances, Denise Millard. They and other company spokespersons discussed the value that Dell Technologies’ partners supply in terms of experience, expertise and insights into the businesses, industries and markets they serve.
Making certain that partners understand and are onboard with APEX is vital but so is ensuring that new as-as-Service solutions provide partners paths to and methodologies for achieving business security and financial success. Dell executives addressed those points during DTW keynotes and breakout sessions and plan to continue communicating with partners as the APEX evolution progresses.
APEX and strategic collaborations
Also worth considering is how APEX will impact the company’s relationships with its strategic partners. One DTW announcement highlighted an expanded collaboration with global digital infrastructure company Equinix to broaden the availability of APEX via Equinix’s International Business Exchange data centers. The goal of this effort pairs Dell-managed infrastructure and Platform Equinix, enabling organizations subscribing to APEX Data Storage Services at Equinix locations to effectively meet unpredictable IT and storage requirements.
Given Equinix’s global footprint, with over 220 data centers located across five continents and its digital ecosystem of more than 10,000 companies, it seems entirely likely that many of those businesses will investigate how they and their customers might benefit from the hybrid cloud environment and the ability to shift to an OpEx budget model supported by APEX.
While Dell Technologies APEX will eventually drive a substantial portion of the company’s business and revenues, Dell executives also noted that its as-a-Service plans will be executed over the long term, in tandem with delivering point products and solutions. Plus, the descriptions of APEX solutions and discussions around them clearly showed that it is keeping partners in mind and in discussions regarding how new offerings and services are evolving.
That is great news for the company’s partners and their customers and prospects. Overall, APEX appears well-considered and well-positioned to deliver the substantial benefits underscored by Michael Dell and others in the company’s leadership. Those goals seem entirely achievable so long as Dell Technologies’ employees, partners and customers have time to adapt to the substantial and subtle changes these new as-a-Service solutions will require.
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