Dell wants to help companies manage the gathering storm of multiple clouds

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Credit: Anna Gordon/GigaOM

Session Name: Dude, it’s a Dell Cloud.

Barb Darrow
Nnamdi Orakwue
Audience Member

Announcer 00:01

Thank you Jo, appreciate it as always. Up next, we’ve got my colleague Barb Darrow . She’s a Senior Editor with GigOM and she’s going to be talking with Nnamdi Orakwue, the VP of Software Strategy In Cloud, at Dell, over “Dude, it’s the Dell Cloud”. Please welcome Barb and Nnamdi.

Barb Darrow 00:22

Hi everyone. Thanks for getting up early. Nnamdi Orakwue is the VP of Software Strategy and Cloud at Dell.

Nnamdi Orakwue 00:33

That’s right.

Barb Darrow 00:33

If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot about Dell in the news. I guess my first question is: How will a private Dell deal with Cloud in a way that may be different than a publicly held Dell?

Nnamdi Orakwue 00:48

I think you’ll really see no difference. The ownership structure of Dell is really not going to have an impact on our Clouds strategy. We’re going to continue down our three pillars of our approach. There’s Cloud elements throughout our company but there are really three focal areas. The first is Private Cloud. That’s our bread and butter. We really want to focus in that space. It’s really important for us to win in Private Cloud. The second is multi-cloud management and Hybrid Cloud, and the third is supplying Cloud builders, making sure that the largest Clouds in the world have the right Dell infrastructure to build our Cloud upon.

Barb Darrow 01:29

You’re like the arms dealer to the Cloud?

Nnamdi Orakwue 01:29

That’s one way to put it. Yes.

Barb Darrow 01:33

So you guys started down the path for an open stack public cloud and then you changed course a little, about six months ago. Right?

Nnamdi Orakwue 01:41


Barb Darrow 01:41

Can you talk a little about why that decision was made and the options you will now offer?

Nnamdi Orakwue 01:47

We thought really long and hard about this. We had thousands of customer conversations across the globe, just trying to understand what’s going on in the cloud market, trying to understand, what inning are we in? Is this the 7th inning of this cloud game or are we in the 1st or 2nd inning? What we learned through those conversations is that this is really the 2nd, maybe the 3rd inning. It’s early going. I think the cloud platforms themselves are maturing. The business models are maturing. And customers at this point want choice. They are fatigued from lock in. They are fatigued from tricky pricing. They’ve got this sort of transition from the client server era to the cloud era. It’s created a complexity in a lot of their environments that they’re trying to manage. And net net, when we looked at all of that, it was pretty clear that we needed to take another direction. It’s a bit of a contrarian view. I accept that. A lot of our large competitors have gone another way, but that’s not their call. What we’re trying to do and what we think the real value is for our customers is in multi-cloud management.

Barb Darrow 03:13

So if I’m a customer and I go with a joint public cloud – either through you or through Joyent – and then I’m running a Dell open-stack private cloud, is Enstratus the bridge between the two?

Nnamdi Orakwue 03:28

No, it’s not. If you take a step back – and this was part of our thinking process – the maturation in the market would suggest that it’s early days for sort of automated hybrid standardized. What you do have is public clouds like, in your example, Joyent, or you’ve got private clouds, like in your example, the open- stack private cloud. And right now, we’re using Boomi, which is a cloud integration engine that we acquired a couple years ago to integrate between the public and the private. I think our in state, which is where we’re going, is to once the vertical industry is scatter plot when it’s really a tight plot against what each vertical is doing in particular workloads where you can start to ship private clouds with platforms on it, integrated with BSS and OSS connectivity with Joyent. I think that’s the instinct with any of our public cloud partners, because we’re creating a public cloud ecosystem.

Barb Darrow 04:52

It’s interesting. You were talking about us being the early stages and I think that’s totally true. But when you talk public cloud now, it’s almost invariably an Amazon discussion. So if I’m a company, thinking about putting loads into a public cloud, why would I go with you guys, with one of your three partners versus Amazon?

Nnamdi Orakwue 05:08

I’ll concede that if a company came off the street, they’re just starting up, they have no infrastructure, they’d probably sign up with a public cloud provider. That makes sense. But I think as companies, the more mature companies, that have more complex infrastructure, they’ve got more going on. They want to buy private clouds and they buy private clouds with the intent to get to hybrid. They would consider buying public cloud through Dell. Companies that have complex environments and already appreciate the need for multi-cloud management, they would be inclined to buy public cloud through Dell because we are in an interesting place in the reference architecture by sitting above these clouds, to understand the performance dynamics of these clouds, understand who’s really getting traction, understand some of the SLA dynamics, uptime dynamics, limitations of liability, transparency, where is my workload running? These are the kinds of things that are important to customers who want to run real applications in the cloud.

Barb Darrow 06:29

It’s almost like this incredible race is playing out. You’ve got Amazon coming down from public cloud and trying to gain credibility in the private cloud, the whole CIA cloud. And then you’ve got HP, Dell, IBM kind of pushing. It’s like this huge pow in the middle.

Nnamdi Orakwue 06:47

Do that again.

Barb Darrow 06:47

Pow. I’m just kind of curious, there was a cloud – I’m not going to say the name, because it hasn’t been confirmed yet – but there was a cloud storage provider that went out of business this week. I would think that that kind of scenario would play into your multi-cloud scenario.

Nnamdi Orakwue 07:06

Yes, exactly. I think that’s the point. There are customers who have primary workloads, primary data in that company that you’re talking about. And the notion that – again if the rumors are true, and they’ve got two weeks to get off of it – that’s pretty bad news.

Barb Darrow 07:33

It takes a long time to move data.

Nnamdi Orakwue 07:34

It absolutely does. And that’s why though our analysis and our research, the real value is coming in this multi-cloud management, the ability to offer the customer – and in this case – storage clouds, governance and policies that they could establish, one of which may be this cloud is running out of capacity. The performance of this cloud is starting to deteriorate. Based on those rules, migrate data or migrate workloads to other clouds. We view that as the in state and that’s what we’re pursuing.

Barb Darrow 08:17

Now since we are in Europe, the headlines have been all about Prism data, security data privacy. Can you talk – if I’m a European country or if I’m a European company – why would I look at a Dell cloud in that scenario, because people are looking at scants at US cloud providers anyway, if you read the press?

Nnamdi Orakwue 08:38

We sell our private clouds all over the world. As they’re private, they’re private. They can do whatever they want with them and they’re in the confines behind their firewall. So I think wherever you are in the world, you should feel pretty comfortable about that. I think the issue comes up in public clouds and I think in our strategy – the way that we’ve considered it – we want to have a partner approach. And it sort of feeds into this issue. We have partners in Europe. So if we take France as an example, we partner with a firm called, Quadria. As an example, they are a French company, governed by French law…

Barb Darrow 09:19

French data centers.

Nnamdi Orakwue 09:20

French data centers. They’ve got their finger on the pulse of French norms and public opinion around things like this and whatever else may come up in the future. And they’re executing on cloud in that country, the same goes for Portugal. Same goes for the UK, where we’re working with Six Degrees. So that’s our approach and we feel really good about that approach. I think that the concerns are real but we’ve got trusted partners in these countries that manage those issues.

Barb Darrow 09:56

When you have a partner approach, you have this kind of trade off. People don’t like vendor lock in but you also hear they want one throat to choke. So they want one point of contact. In that case, is Quadria the one throat to choke?

Nnamdi Orakwue 10:08

Well they have a relationship with Dell. They buy a lot of Dell gear and a lot of Dell products and services. But we’ve got a tight partnership, we certify that Quadria is what they say they are and they are fit for purpose. So Dell is part of the throat to choke in those scenarios.

Barb Darrow 10:28

I would love questions. If there is anyone with questions. I think you can use those. That would be great.

Audience Member 10:36

You’ve been talking a lot about multi-cloud management but I think that’s a nuance term, because at the same time as you’ve been talking about moving workloads between providers, you’ve also been talking about just the general government. I’ve got a bit of a theory that the workload movement between clouds, on a broad basis, isn’t going ahead in the short term but what enterprisers really want is just the visibility in the government. So maybe if you can talk a little bit about the nuances between those two fairly distinct use cases that are there.

Nnamdi Orakwue 11:17

Yeah. I think you’re right. I think it’s a good theory. I think that moving workloads is something that’s hard to do and it’s something that we’re getting better and better at, but it’s not a mainstream reality today. It’s something we’re working at. It’s all about – to your point- governance, policy, seeing it all from a single pane of glass, making sure that if you’ve got two or three or four clouds, you make an acquisition, you have this outsourcing deal, whatever your deal is. Employee A can only access cloud A on Tuesday between 9 and 10 because he has this permission that’s sorted through Microsoft active directory or whatever. That’s real and today and that’s what we’re delivering. So I think you’re theory’s right.

Barb Darrow 12:18

Any other questions? I’ll keep talking unless somebody gets up. When you go into a Net New account or maybe a Dell hardware account and you’re thinking about making a cloud transition, I’m curious what the first three concerns are?

Nnamdi Orakwue 12:34

A Net New account?

Barb Darrow 12:35

Yeah. Well maybe it’s a Dell Hardware account. There’s nothing in the cloud yet. What do you hear in terms of concerns?

Nnamdi Orakwue 12:41

I have nothing in the cloud.

Barb Darrow 12:44

Yeah, probably.

Nnamdi Orakwue 12:47

I don’t see a lot of those customers. At the end of the day, everybody’s got something.

Barb Darrow 12:56

So I guess the question then is, okay so they’ve got some stuff in the cloud. Are they concerned – if it’s an enterprise – about SLA’s or buying things the way they’re use to buying them?

Nnamdi Orakwue 13:08

Yeah. I think that people are starting to understand that Dell has got a cloud broker approach, that we’re cloud agnostic. We’re not trying to push a particular platform. They can sort of tussle it out. We’re not in that fight and so they view us as a trusted advisor. So the kinds of issues that we deal with are – like you said – SLA issues, uptime. Cloud provider A calculates it by the hour. Cloud provider B calculates it by the year. This is not always–

Barb Darrow 13:49

How do we chew this up?

Nnamdi Orakwue 13:49

Yeah, how do we chew this up? What’s really going on here? Limitations of liabilities, we talked about. Cloud provider A maxes out at 10%. That doesn’t seem very good if you’re an enterprise. They’re used to negotiating their own deals. Other providers are at 100% so I think it’s those kinds of concerns and we have really great visibility into all of that, because we see all of that, and we help all of our customers navigate through that every day.

Barb Darrow 14:19

You’re part of the open stack community on the private cloud side. There are tons of open stack clouds. Do you foresee a shake out or a consolidation there? Is there room for like 18 different open stack companies?

Nnamdi Orakwue 14:31

I don’t know. From a Dell perspective, we just love open stack. I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s gaining great traction in the market. A year ago we weren’t seeing this but now we’re seeing banks who are coming to us and this is beyond POC stuff. They’re actually doing production stuff with open stack and we’re helping them. Seeking three Fortune 500 retailers, doing the same thing. So we think open stack is real. How many open stack clouds? I don’t know, but we’re in the fortunate position of sitting on top of all of this and just making sure that the customer wins. I really don’t care who of the 18 win.

Barb Darrow 15:24

One of the things that I keep hearing on the public cloud side is that everyone loves Amazon. They spend their workloads up. But once you hit a certain threshold of production use, a lot of them bring loads back in. I’m curious if you’re seeing Amazon accounts coming in kicking the tires with your–

Nnamdi Orakwue 15:43

Absolutely. We’ve got a rule of thumb that we’ve done our own internal analysis and once you reach an Amazon bill of about 50,000 per month, it’s time to go to a private cloud. We see customers coming to us with that problem all the time. We see lots of start-ups. We meet a lot of the venture capital community. And they’re saying, “Look, all of my start-ups started in Amazon but these bills are getting ridiculous.” And how do we get them over to private cloud? So we’re doing this like wholesale through the venture community and the start-up community because everybody’s facing the same problem.

Barb Darrow 16:29

It’s interesting that you mentioned– Did you mention banks coming over to the open stack private cloud?

Nnamdi Orakwue 16:34

Yeah, that’s right.

Barb Darrow 16:35

So that’s a big step, isn’t it? I mean in financial services.

Nnamdi Orakwue 16:36

Yeah. Again, are they running core banking? No. But they are doing test dev, which is – in the case of all the banks we’re working with – it’s a test dev environment, where they really what show back, charge backs so they can understand who’s using what, in which division, and all that kind of stuff. I think it’s great. They’re excited about it. They see cost savings down the line. And again, they don’t want this lock in, and that’s what they’re trying to avoid.

Barb Darrow 17:12

So it’s the same people who feared lock in in their own data centers, fear lock in spilling up into the cloud?

Nnamdi Orakwue 17:18


Barb Darrow 17:18

Any questions? Your last chance. I think we’re a little early, but I think I’m done.

Nnamdi Orakwue 17:27

Thanks Barb.

Barb Darrow 17:28

Thanks guys.

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