Dell APEX Cloud Platform comes to Azure Stack HCI

Dell has launched its APEX Cloud Platform for Azure, first announced at Dell World in May, helping to provide a consistent Azure cloud environment across edge, branch, and central datacenters, as well as the public cloud.

Update. Product storage options clarified and table updated. 27 Sep 2023.

Azure Stack is a hyperconverged hardware and software stack needed to provide Azure cloud services on-premises with several OEMs, such as Dell and HPE, supporting it. The Azure Stack HCI includes the Hyper-V virtualization technology along with Storage Spaces Direct. With the APEX CLoud Platform Dell provides the compute, storage, and networking resources in a hyperconverged environment to run the AzureStack HCI v22H2 operating system. The APEX Cloud Platform will also support Red Hat OpenShift and VMware. This Azure version of Dell’s APEX Cloud Platform runs Storage Spaces Direct with PowerFlex software-defined storage as a future option. Dell, via APEX, is the first member of a new Microsoft Premier Solution category of Azure Stack HCI offerings.

Douglas Phillips, Corporate VP for Azure Edge + Platform at Microsoft, said: “More of our customers are asking us to bring the power of Azure wherever they need it out in the real world, whether that is in their factories, retail stores, quick service restaurants, or distributed locations. Through our partnership with Dell, we can project just enough Microsoft Azure to those locations at the edge.”

That’s “just enough” as in not replacing the Azure cloud, not over-burdening the edge sites, and in using familiar Azure cloud management services. For example, users can have consistent security and compliance policies across their Azure environment through integration with centralized Azure management and governance services.

This Dell service is based on hyperconverged MC-760 and MC-660 nodes in 2RU chassis. There can be a single node at edge sites and clusters of up to 16 in datacenters with automated cluster expansion. A table summarizes their features:

The MC-760 can have all-flash, hybrid NVMe SSDs and HDDs, and hybrid SAS SSD and HDD configurations, while the smaller MC-660 is only available in all-flash setups, 10 x SAS SSDs or 10 x NVMe SSDs, which are faster than SAS drives. Both node types support up to 2x Nvidia Ampere GPUs.

The node details get complicated and a Dell datasheet has lists the options. We’ve summarized a few salient node server and storage differences from it here:

Dell APEX specs

Download the full datasheet here.

Dell says it will add a third, more specialized node type, based on its PowerEdge XR4000 edge-optimized server. It will also add the ability to scale storage separately from compute.

It claims that compared to its existing Integrated System for Azure Stack HCI, customers will see an 88 percent reduction in deployment steps due to a new deployment wizard. Dell is now so integrated with Microsoft’s support services that updates, patches, and new releases will be available to customers within 4 hours of a Microsoft release.

Download a solution brief document here.