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View from the Airport: Dell Technologies World 2021

Project Apex takes centre stage at Dell’s second virtual conference

This year’s Dell Technologies World was my first ever Dell event, so I’m sadly unable to compare it to the face-to-face version that had been running for nearly 10 years before COVID forced it online. In fact, virtual conferences are all I’ve ever known since I began covering them just over a year ago and I’m yet to experience the dubious pleasure of tasting a par-boiled croissant.

In place of such conference delicacies, Dell Technologies World 2021 delivered a healthy portion of updates to its Apex services platform. After kicking off the show with a traditional speech by Michael Dell himself, Dell CMO Allison Dew led us through an introduction to the new additions, which include hybrid cloud and deployment for its Apex Cloud Services. Dew also unveiled the new Apex Data Storage Services, Apex Custom Solutions, as well as the Apex Console. 

While all the products may be interesting in their own right, Apex Console was “the one that stood out” for Gartner Research VP Sid Nag.

Nag told me that Project Apex as a whole is “Dell’s response” to HPE’s Greenlake as-a-Service offering. In fact, he added that “Dell’s timing is a bit late”, as Greenlake was unveiled in November 2017. However, Nag pointed out that, while the Apex Console “is a single control plane for all of APEX’s offerings, it is also differentiated from HPE’s approach of having separate consoles for Greenlake (Greenlake Central) and another one for [the] Ezmeral console”.

The Apex announcements were all made on the first day of Dell Technologies World, leaving the second day rather lack-lustre. Both days were packed with an abundance of live breakout sessions, with many taking place at the same time. However, the sessions were also recorded and made available to re-watch almost immediately after they had concluded, providing attendees with the opportunity to catch up at a later time. With topics ranging from Open RAN and enterprise security to imposter syndrome, Dell took into account that most attendees are still working from home, many still being tasked with the responsibility of entertaining a child at the same time. In what could be seen as an attempt to make the conference more family-friendly, Dell managed to get hold of a secret weapon in the form of Bill Nye the Science Guy himself, organising a Q&A session featuring young scientists as one of the last segments of the event. Other areas of entertainment were less engaging, but tech events are rarely organised for amusement purposes.

Although, as previously mentioned, I cannot compare my experience with past Dell events, I’m confident that moving a conference online has managed to mitigate some of the physical downsides of organising an event, such as costs or keeping to the schedule. Dell Technologies World 2021 had no time for late-comers, starting every session exactly on time. This meant that even joining in one minute late would have made it difficult to catch up with what had already been discussed under one’s absence, because the organisers seemed to make sure that every second of the event had been utilised perfectly. It’s going to be interesting to see whether this new trend of punctuality will apply to the real world once it finally reopens. That day, maybe I, too, will have a proper view from the airport.

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