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Dell Technologies World 2024: AI Edition


Rob Sims

Hybrid Platforms

•  Jun 05, 2024

This year, I did not manage to make it to Las Vegas for the flagship Dell Technologies World event. However, I was excited to see how the messaging around Artificial Intelligence, Hybrid Cloud and data centre modernisation would have evolved since last year. To find out, we sent a crack squad of CDW’s finest to the event to gather the real-world view and vibe directly from the event. Our Dell Partner Manager, Andrew Dawson, summed the event up with this simple quote:  

“Coming away from Dell Tech World, it's easy to think that AI stole the show, but the truth is that the shift to AI is only a function of what Dell is doing. Dell proved to me that they have built best-in-class ecosystems that can accommodate any workload, anywhere, for all their customers.” 

As you would expect from an event of this magnitude, there were more announcements and reveals than we can cover in a single article. If you want to hear more on topics like Dell PowerEdge Server, PowerSwitch Networking, and Dell PowerScale Storage, please reach out, and we can arrange a session with one of our experts.  

Watching the keynotes and news feeds from afar, three key themes surfaced: 

AI Factories:  

The wave of possibilities from the Generative AI revolution is immense, and how we capture that and turn It into something repeatable and responsible will be critical. At a recent customer event on AI, we discussed that, even without any new advancements, it could take the industry a decade to unlock its full potential. However, innovation is not standing still, so the horizon will keep moving. The joint power of our CDW ‘Accelerating AI Outcomes’ program and Dell AI Factories will allow us to unlock the three key challenges for AI adoption: Governance, Strategy and Platforms. 


It was great to see the uncanny alignment of the Dell message on Cloud, ‘Multicloud by Design, not Multicloud by Default,’ to CDW’s Right Workload | Right Platform. The announcements around VMware, Microsoft, Redhat, and Nutanix, which are all fully integrated into the Dell hardware platforms, will give customers the freedom to choose the best outcome for them.  

Storage Prime: 

Datacentre modernisation is still a massive topic for many customers, and with that comes the need to meet ever-increasing storage demands. It was very welcome to see Dell increase storage efficiencies (helping with costs, power, and carbon impacts) and introduce the latest QLC flash technologies.  

With all these announcements, it was lucky that our own Ollie Blostone had boots on the ground in Las Vegas and could capture the mood and detail as it happened. His detailed, 11-page internal write-up of the event is a pleasure to read and brings the best announcements in the world of Hybrid Platforms to life. Below is a summary of that document, focusing on the details of the top three announcements and overall event. Massive thanks to Ollie for creating this content. 

Happy 40th Birthday Dell Technologies 

Dell Technologies World 2024 was characterised by four days of innovation, strategic direction-setting, and exciting product announcements. As the number-one player in Server, Storage, Data Protection, and Client Devices in the marketplace, Dell continues breaking down barriers and disrupting the market with the vital help of TITANIUM BLACK partners like CDW.  

This year also represents a special anniversary. In 1984, in dorm room 2713 of the University of Texas, one Michael Dell assembled his first PC and founded what was then known as PC’s Limited. Fast-forward forty years, and the company, now adorned with the founder’s name and employing 120,000 people in 180 countries, produced $88bn in revenue in 2024, ranking the group as the 12th-largest tech company in the world. Not bad for a would-be medical student with a passing interest in computers! 

Dell Technologies World 2024: AI Edition

This year, Dell Technologies and its leaders have gone ‘all-in' on a single market trend, even going as far as to name this year’s event, Dell Technologies World 2024: AI Edition. On day one, Michael Dell took the stage for the first keynote address of the event. Dell’s mission statement has remained consistent since 2021: “Driving human progress with technology, values and purpose.” Michael Dell reiterates that human providence has increased by orders of magnitude; “It’s been one hell of a ride”, but he explains that we’re now moving from an era of computation to an era of cognition and what he calls the ‘age of AI’. The way we work and the way that we live will be transformed by this disruptive technology. Dell compares the mills of the Industrial Revolution and the AI Factories of tomorrow.  

AI Factories: From Concept To Reality

How do we move from a powerful concept to a practical application? Dell now references the notion of the Artificial Intelligence Factory; a means for customers to harness the potential of the AI revolution in a real and meaningful way. Because AI transformation isn’t like any form of IT transformation we have seen before, the potential is far greater, the speed is faster, and the scope is much wider.   

Dell Technologies believes that in this new and exciting age, classical IT infrastructure and traditional operating models are inadequate to support the stresses of AI, and a new approach is required. Welcome to the world of the AI Factory.  

In the same way the mills of the first industrial revolution powered incredible transformation, AI factories will be the driving force behind the AI revolution. The raw materials ingested into an AI factory will be data, and the output will be actionable intelligence, live content, and valuable insights. The businesses that will thrive in the new AI revolution will be those that can establish fast results, which can be repeated quickly. 

Dell Technologies' vision is to help customers create their own AI Factories; driving consistent transformative outcomes at a significant scale. This will allow them to seize a competitive advantage in their given space. Dell's goal in 2024 is to increase the pace of AI innovation.  

Storage In The Age Of ‘Prime’ 

If data is the rocket fuel of the future, then Dell Technologies has been at the centre of providing data storage solutions to the market more effectively than anyone else. This year sees a generational uplift and a supporting program of features and initiatives travelling under the banner of Dell PowerStore Prime.  

Let’s get the numbers out of the way first.  

Existing customers will enjoy up to a 30% IOP increase, 20% lower latency and 2x more volume…and at what cost, I hear you ask? Zero…none whatsoever. PowerStore customers upgrading to v4.0 will see these performance boosts at no cost. Furthermore, customers performing data in-place controller upgrades from gen 1 to gen 2 PowerStore, or in-range upgrades to the next highest controller model will enjoy up to a 66% performance boost! 

One of the most exciting updates to PowerStore is the increase from a 4:1 to 5:1 data reduction guarantee. Effective data reduction underpins all-flash storage economics, and now every penny of value can be squeezed out of customer’s storage investments.  

Finally, and possibly the most exciting announcement, is the launch of a new member of the PowerStore family. Advances in technology in the last 36 months have seen storage providers leveraging the economic benefits of new drive fabrication techniques. Quad-level cell or QLC fabrication brings enormous benefits to customers who do not require ultra-high performance from their storage media. DTW2024 sees Dell launch the PowerStore 3200Q array; this system leverages the low cost of 15.3TB QLC modules. However, unlike competitive arrays, the entry point is a mere 11 drives. Furthermore, these can be scaled in increments of a single drive thanks to PowerStore’s dynamic pools technology. 

Multicloud By Design - APEX Cloud Platform & HCI Strategy 

Over a decade ago, the world of traditional server and storage architecture was turned on its head. The arrival of software-defined storage and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) changed how many customers deployed their infrastructure. Moving from external storage platforms to distributed, linearly scalable, node-based architecture that tightly integrates servers, storage, virtualisation, and networking into a single cluster of appliances represented a revolution in simplicity, scalability, manageability, and predictability for many customers. Combined with ever-closer integration with hyperscale public cloud services, HCI as an architecture has had a seismic impact on our marketplace. 

The HCI and software-defined storage market has significantly changed in the last 24 months.  

Broadcom’s Acquisition of VMware has changed the game's rules. How would Dell choose to react to this? Perhaps the obvious approach would have been to go ‘all-in' with the Dell PowerFlex product; a software-defined storage and HCI product derived from the acquisition of Israeli-based ScaleIO in 2013. Or to lean into the partnerships with Microsoft and RedHat; capitalising on the AzureStack HCI platform or OpenShift ecosystem. Perhaps another approach might be to forge a renewed partnership with the other significant player in the HCI space; software company Nutanix.  

So, which approach have Dell decided to take? The answer is all of the above - and more! 

Dell APEX Cloud Platform (ACP) is the umbrella for Dell’s strategy in this space, and forms part of what they call ‘Cloud to Ground’; a set of offerings designed to offer common ecosystems between on-premises HCI infrastructure and public cloud resources. It allows the graceful movement of workloads and associated storage between the ‘ground’ and the ‘cloud’. This entire strategy is underpinned by one single message: “Dell Technologies Believe In Customer Choice In A World Of Lock-In”. 

For those intending to remain in the VMware ecosystem (and many will), the Dell VxRail product has total commitment from Dell. The product roadmap (which was delivered to our team by the group product lead under NDA) is fulsome. Dell’s 17th-generation server platform, which will launch in Q4’24, will be the long-term building block for the next generation of VxRail. As the final obstacles to the Broadcom\Dell OEM agreement are cleared away in the next few weeks, normal service will be resumed and the world’s most popular HCI product will continue to be an important part of Dell’s future. 

For customers seeking to explore the Microsoft ecosystem, Dell APEX Cloud Platform for Microsoft continues to go from strength to strength. Based on the powerful AzureStack HCI architecture; ACP for Microsoft moves from the reference architecture and validated systems of AX Nodes to a full lifecycle-managed offering. This is much more closely aligned to the service model of VxRail, but with LCM coming downstream from Microsoft.  

For those keen to explore the benefits of RedHat’s OpenShift ecosystem, ACP for Redhat offers the ability to run virtualised workloads on top of a container orchestration platform. This eases the way for container adoption while still enjoying the benefits of an alternative hypervisor. 

Finally, in incredibly exciting news that broke late on Monday, Dell and Nutanix inked a new partnership agreement in the early hours of Sunday morning to collaborate on joint multicloud solutions. Nutanix’s offering will be made available as an appliance from Dell, leveraging PowerEdge servers as the hardware platform. The Nutanix software subscription will be available via Dell, and ProSupport will deliver L0-L2 support services. 

However, a big dollop of Dell's special sauce draws all this strategy together, making it highly differentiated in the marketplace. You may choose to invest in ACP for Microsoft, RedHat or Nutanix technologies on Dell. All of these products will be able to address the enterprise-grade, massively scalable, highly performant Dell PowerFlex software-defined storage offering - be it in the form of PowerFlex on-premises storage nodes or APEX Block Storage Services for AWS and Azure in the public cloud. Dell has termed this the “Universal Storage Layer”, or USL. This is a highly differentiated feature of the Dell ACP portfolio. 

Dell Technologies now offers the most complete and comprehensive set of HCI and software-defined storage products anywhere in the market. Be it Dell’s own PowerFlex product, APEX Cloud Platform products based on AzureStack and OpenShift, Nutanix in combination with Dell storage services, or the proven co-engineered technology of VxRail, Dell is now the last word in this space. 

All of this sits in the context of Dell’s ‘MultiCloud by Design, not MultiCloud by Default’ mantra. What started life two years ago as Project Alpine has seen Dell’s most popular enterprise-grade block, file, object, and protection storage products brought to the public cloud, acting as the drawstring to bring these exciting HCI platform announcements together and giving customers an unrivalled multicloud experience. 

Many thanks to my CDW Coworker Ollie Blostone, Business Development Manager, who helped to write and curate the article.

  • Rob Sims

    Chief Technologist - Hybrid Platforms

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