The Cloud Is Not a Location

Many customers I’ve spoken to think of the cloud as a location—specifically, the public cloud—a place to go to unlock speed, agility, and increased innovation for their development and IT organization. They look to the public cloud to give them the power to instantly spin up resources when needed—and shut them down when they’re not. Since this became popular with the rise of public clouds, these customers think the public cloud is the only place they can take advantage of managed services and automation to reduce the burden of operating their own infrastructure. As I’ve had these conversations, it’s clear that they are associating the benefits of agility, speed, and rapid innovation with the location where they were first achieving those benefits. They looked to the public cloud to give them the flexibility to rapidly pivot their applications—or even their entire businesses—as the market, or business, needs changed.

Many organizations assume that by relocating applications to the public cloud, they’ll automatically gain these benefits, but that experience rarely works out. I often joke that, “Proof of digital transformation is not a bill from a public cloud.” It’s not the location of your applications that’s the catalyst for change, it’s how you operate. When you think of the cloud as an experience, not a location, you start to see the true value of cloud.

Why you need the cloud experience at the hardware and software layers

Companies like VMware have worked for over a decade to bring the cloud experience to companies at the software layer. This has been great for customers but has also left many with questions about how to plan for the hardware layer. Capacity planning, large upfront capital expenses, and months-long hardware delivery times all limited on-premises cloud models to the resources on hand that were still planned in yearly cycles. This is why solutions such as Dell Technologies APEX allow you to have that cloud experience of agility, speed, and increased innovation across your entire IT environment at both the hardware and software layers. This is the cloud experience without the caveats (employee retraining, platform lock-in, loss of security control, decreased performance, increased costs, etc.) When you stop thinking about the cloud as a location—a place you go to derive the benefits of digital transformation—and start thinking of the cloud as an experience to gain speed, agility, and increased innovation, you realize that the cloud can be anywhere you need it to be—in a data center, in the public cloud, or at the edge.

Why is this so important? According to recent ESG research¹, a full 88% of businesses have cloud strategies that include on-premises infrastructure. These companies are often looking to balance investments both on premises and in the public cloud, but with this comes the complexity of managing capital expenditures, capacity planning, and the need for periodic refreshes. In short, it’s complicated, error prone, and time consuming—and a key benefit of APEX is bringing that same speed, agility, and increased innovation of the public cloud experience anywhere. For some businesses, it can be as simple as helping them build their own private cloud so they can keep their data stored locally for security or compliance reasons. For others, they might need to take advantage of the edge with low latency computing in locations with unreliable, slow, or expensive internet connections. No matter the scenario, we provide a cloud experience to you where they need it.

With APEX Custom Solutions, we’re as agile and cost-effective as any cloud solution but without the concerns over data residency.”- Jordan Reinhardt, Director of Information Services, RelateCare

Embracing the as-a-service model as the foundation for cloud

The best part of all of this is that you can get started today. Instead of overbuying physical storage to ensure you never run out of it, you can invest in storage-as-a-service now with minimal upfront capital cost while you transform your approach to your on-premises footprint. Just this small embrace of the as-a-service model shifts the way you approach accounting and the amount of capacity planning you need to do. That’s a great first step in your cloud journey and far more productive than just moving a VM into someone else’s data center and thinking that the way you operate, or the benefits you’ll gain, will change. It’s also much less disruptive than going all (locked) in with a public cloud provider.

At the end of the day, there is no one solution that will work for every customer. IT, by its very nature, is bespoke. The flexibility of core infrastructure has been the engine of progress for over 20 years—the cloud shift has only kept that going. Almost every customer I’ve spoken with is looking for a practical way to increase the agility of their business while minimizing the risk and disruption of making that change. The customers doing it best are the ones that are pragmatic about where to run each of their applications. They understand that cloud is an experience, a way of operating that is best achieved in a consistent way, everywhere that they need to operate—from the data center, to the public cloud, and out to the edge. We don’t think you should be limited in where you run your applications and we’ve created APEX to help you run what you want, where you want, the way that you want. We want to give you your cloud experience—and the speed, agility, and increased innovation that comes with it—no matter where you need it.

Learn more about our APEX portfolio of services.

¹ Source: ESG Research Insights Paper, “Exploring Hybrid Cloud Adoption and the Complexity of Securing East-West Traffic” Commissioned by VMware, Jan 2020.

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