Dell is in the midst of announcing and defining its IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) platform, named APEX, at Dell Technologies World this week. This shift is a major shake-up to Dell’s business, with the company making organizationwide changes to move from a product-focused vendor to a client-outcomes-based partner. HPE has been on this journey since 2017 and has a head start on the ITaaS transition. Managed services providers and other hosted private cloud vendors have been working along a similar trajectory to simplify consumption of their services and expand their reach.

IT As A Service Should Complement, Not Compete With, Public Cloud Vendors

As many companies pursued aggressive cloud migration strategies and then reduced their recurring infrastructure purchases, traditional infrastructure providers like Dell and HPE have naturally gravitated toward ITaaS offerings. Many vendors either explicitly or implicitly target public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft Azure as their competition. Private infrastructure providers need to redefine the competitive landscape, however. As many of the aforementioned companies learned, the cloud is very different from on-premises, and using it effectively requires learning what it does best. The same goes for infrastructure delivered on premises (even if it is consumed “as a service”). Electricity generator manufacturers don’t view themselves as competitors with the electric grid — they provide capacity, customized applications, and access to electricity for places where the grid doesn’t reach. In the IT world, private infrastructure does the same thing for a company’s utilization of technology resources.

Enable The Solutions That Clients Need To Win And Retain Customers

ITaaS providers need to view their services as enabling solutions that the public cloud can’t provide, whether they be related to costs, service accessibility, technology customization, or policy. Enabling utilization of public resources, when it makes sense, and private resources, when public cloud doesn’t make sense, needs to be the focus of infrastructure providers in an ever more technology-dependent and interconnected future. Building a private edge environment that will interact seamlessly with public cloud and best-of-breed software-as-a-service applications will win customers. And if ITaaS providers can manage to copy the electric grid and design a system that credits customers for computing on their own hosted infrastructure, I am sure many businesses wouldn’t mind leveraging unused cycles to reduce the cost of hosting their technology platform.