APEX Infrastructure Services (Data Storage Services)

In this post I am going to cover our APEX Data Storage Services product offering which is available now in the Catalog within the APEX Console.

If you have not read APEX Pt. 1 I encourage you to do so. This will help in your overall understanding of APEX and it will bring some context to what we are about to discuss in Pt. 2. Pt. 1 was more high level but hopefully it was able to bring some clarity to what APEX is from a foundational perspective. This post will be a bit more detailed as to give you an understanding of the offering, how to transact, and some things to think about along the way.

Here we go!

APEX Data Storage Services provides an elastic, outcome-based storage service that allows our customers to pay for what they are using along with the ability to scale up or down, meets the SLA they need and is on-premises infrastructure which is owned and maintained by Dell Technologies. That’s a mouth full! This means that we are providing the physical gear, in your data center, in an OpEx pay-for-what-you-use model with flexibility to scale up or down as needed.

This graph depicts the consumption model we use for this service. The dotted line represents your monthly subscription cost for the service and the stair steps represent expansions over time which increase your monthly cost. The curvy white line shows your storage utilization over the course of time with the possibility of extending outside the means of what you are paying for. Maybe this is related to a growth increase or maybe it’s a temporary situation…either way if you go outside of what your service cost is for a given month, you simply pay for the overages while maintaining your same monthly subscription price.

One of the other added features of this service is that there is a Customer Success Manager that is assigned to the customer. The CSM is a trusted advisor and your primary point of contact for APEX DSS starting from Day 1 throughout the subscription period of the offer. To name a few things they are responsible for:

  • Delivery of a smooth onboarding experience
  • Collaboration on strategic direction
  • Verification of SLAs
  • Anticipates and resolves potential issues
  • Proactively manages system health
  • Coordination of updates and optimizations

This is a very important role in the service offering as they broker your experience with the product services.

Now let’s cover some of the specifics with the offering on a solution delivery and technology perspective.

Every customer that wants to consume APEX Services will broker these services through the APEX Console which they will have access to once they are onboarded by request to their Account Team. Once the account has been created and console access has been given you will log in to Discover, Subscribe, Deploy, Manage, Optimize and Grow your APEX Services.

DISCLAIMER: This Service does NOT include the compute necessary to run your workloads. You will need to provide the Servers/Hosts to run the physical or virtualized workloads that will consume APEX DSS. The hosts connected are not managed or supported by Dell APEX Support/CSM resources, but you may find value in leveraging any one of Dell Technologies’ PowerEdge Server based solutions which will result in a single vendor support experience.

You will find the APEX Data Storage Services offering in the APEX Console in the ‘Catalog’.

Once you select Data Storage Services you will have the option to give your order a name and a description. There are 2 Data Service offerings you will have the ability to choose from – Block or File. Select the Service that best meets the needs of your workload/use-case and click Continue.

The next decision you have to make is what are the performance needs of my workload for which you have 3 options:

  • Tier 1 – Highest Performance
  • Tier 2 – Balanced Performance and Cost
  • Tier 3 – Cost-Optimized Performance.

When you click ‘Show Details’ you will get a Target Use Cases list that will help provide direction as to what Tier may be the best fit. Here are some charts that summarize the performance capabilities and minimums imposed by each tier, for both Block and File Services:

Block Services

Bock Services read and write maximum performance is based on 256KB IO Size and 100% sequential read/write workloads using Fibre Channel connectivity in block optimized mode (per base TB). IOPS maximum performance based on random mixed block workload using Fibre Channel connectivity in block optimized mode (per base TB). Pricing is based on a 3yr subscription term.

File Services

File Services maximum read / write throughput performance is based on NFSv3 protocol with 100% sequential read / write workloads (per base TB). Maximum ops / sec performance based on NFSv3 protocol with a common NAS File Sharing benchmark (per base TB). Pricing is based on 3yr subscription term.

I selected Block Services in this workflow. Also, note your decision tree on the far right of the screen in which you can go back and edit any of these details as you work through the process or maybe change your mind on what you need.

Next once you have chosen your Performance Tier, you will need to specify the Base Capacity need. There are minimums that are noted below the Capacity bar. You can also reference the Block and File charts above for the Min. Capacity for each tier in each service. Click Continue.

You will select your subscription term – 1 or 3 years. The monthly cost for the selections made in the configuration are shown as well. You can see that the 3yr has a better monthly cost than the 1yr and these are cost minimums which do not factor in overage charges that occur if you consume more than the amount specified in the contract. These costs also do not include the infrastructure costs such as power, cooling, colocation, etc. These are the responsibility of the customer or colo provider depending what your scenario would require. Click Continue.

As a new customer you will need to add a New Site or you can select an existing site if you already subscribe to APEX Services. In Pt. 1 I mentioned that these Services provided through APEX are On-Premises infrastructure solutions and you will need to ensure that you have a physical site location to deploy the solution. Additionally, at Dell Technologies World 2021 we pre-announced availability of APEX Data Storage Services in Equinix which will be a colocation service offering. This is not yet GA and you should consult with your Sales account team as to the date of GA.

Next you will need to leverage the Site Survey of the existing site or you will need to create a new Site Survey if this is a new site or if there have been any changes from the initial site survey created. You will need to expand the ‘Delivery Details’ carrot to show the Site Readiness details which will be required to be met in order to receive and deploy the services.

There are a number of requirements in order to qualify for APEX DSS and should be reviewed for qualification during the Sales process.

Here is a list of the Site Requirements needed to qualify for APEX DSS:

  • Building/Facility is accessible by 53′ tractor-trailer (Assuming you have loading dock)
  • No lift gate needed
  • No special security clearance or site access/tickets to enter facility
  • No special documents required (i.e.: Hazardous Material, Export Compliance, Union building, Certificate of Insurance)
  • Route to final rack destination is free of obstacles
  • No use of stairway/stair crawler or elevator required
  • Dimensions of smallest doorway at least 48″ x 90″ (Palletized or not)
  • Floor & Path to final location can support up to 3300 lbs.
  • Data Center is not Dark Site

Here is the list of the Managed Services Requirements to qualify for APEX DSS:

  • Dedicated VPN tunnel between Dell and the site
  • Dell provided tools for managing the environment
  • Remote Services are provided by Dell in various global locations via standardized and secure corporate images
  • Customer defined AD groups for Dell Technologies Managed Services access per provider requirements in Service Description

These will be verified as Services works with you in planning as well as throughout the deployment. Failure to ensure these standards can be met may result in potential delays so please verify!!

Each APEX DSS solution will come installed in a 42U rack, dual PDUs, (2) ToR Network switches and (2) Management Switches.

For Block Services you will have (2) Storage connectivity options: Fibre Channel or iSCSI. If you choose iSCSI, you will connect the ToRs to your network via uplinks from the ToRs. If you choose FC, you will have the option to connect the storage directly via customer provided FC switches.

For File Services you will connect to the customer network via the ToRs.

You will make sure you verify Power and Network connection specifications for the uplinks to the customer data network as well as the management network from the DSS Rack. Click the Acknowledgement then click ‘Continue’.

You will then review your selections and make any changes necessary before committing the order. You have the ability to edit these selections before committing the order by cling ‘Back’ or by clicking the blue edit symbol next to the field to be edited.

As you can see, it’s a very simple process to place an order for APEX Data Storage Services. I encourage you to reach out to your local Account Team on any storage needs to see if APEX DSS is the right fit for you.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to drop a comment below! Be on the lookout for APEX Pt.3 where I will cover APEX Cloud Services. Have a Happy Labor Day!

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