STaaSification; Dell APEX project includes Storage-as-a-Service

Dell is going to offer on-premises managed file and block storage services next year. Customers will rent storage instead of buying it.

This is part of its Project APEX, announced at the virtual Dell Technologies World, and a response to the same forces that drove HPE to provide its GreenLake everything as a service scheme. The idea to make the on-premises IT world similar to the public cloud in terms of IT component delivery, scalability and payment.

Dell’s COO and vice chairman Jeff Clarke said in a statement: “We’re building upon our long history of offering on-demand technology with this initiative. Our goal is to give customers the 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.” 

Zadara has offered managed block storage services on premises for some time with its virtual private storage array concept. Its arrays are available via public clouds, including AWS, Google Cloud Platform and Azure, managed service providers, data centres, colocation partners, and on-premises in customer data centres.

Its arrays deliver file, block and object services, and customers pay according to usage.

The Dell Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) offerings will offer block and file data services and a broad range of enterprise-class features. Dell says STaaS is designed for OPEX transactions and customers will manage their STaaS resources though a Dell Technologies Cloud Console. 

Details are few but we envisage existing product to service migration developments;

  • STaaS block services<—— Unity-as-a-Service
  • STaaS file services <—— Isilon-as-a-Service

There is no STaaS object service, as yet. 

How will these services be scaled? In the public cloud, if you want more file storage capacity you simply dial it up and the space is there at once. But, on premises, extra capacity requires disk drives or SSDs to be physically present and connected. Either the array or filer is over-provisioned with enough spare capacity waiting to be used, or you have to wait for Dell to deliver the extra kit.

The enterprise services will probably include availability, data reduction, data protection for business continuity and disaster recovery, storage and system analytics, and tiering to lower-cost back-end storage, either on-premises or in the public cloud. We would envisage STaaS data protection being made available fairly quickly.

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