After the initial announcement at Dell Technologies World in May, APEX Cloud Platform for Microsoft Azure is now available for customers.
As part of the wider APEX Cloud Platforms portfolio, ACP for Microsoft Azure is an on-premises infrastructure platform that’s designed to extend and optimize the Azure cloud experience. 

The platform tightly integrates Dell and Microsoft technology with APEX Cloud Platform Foundation Software, that automates all aspects of management from deployment to lifecycle management, simplifying Azure hybrid cloud operations.
APEX Cloud Platform for Azure is built on a common set of infrastructure building blocks from Dell, including our latest generation servers, highly scalable software defined storage all tightly integrated with Azure software. 
The platform helps to accelerate productivity by delivering familiar developer experiences across locations and by optimizing delivery of Azure Kubernetes Services and Azure Arc-enabled services.

Both Dell and Microsoft have collaborated to engineer unique benefits with APEX Cloud Platform that go beyond what we have offered in the past with our Integrated Systems.

APEX Cloud Platform Foundation Software

APEX Cloud Platform Foundation Software provides deep, cross-layer integrations and intelligent automation that simplify initial deployment and cluster creation, in addition to ongoing operations across the complete technology stack. 
APEX Cloud Platform Foundation Software enables the fastest path to deploy Azure Stack HCI through a fully automated, wizard-based deployment with automated node discovery, cluster configuration, and network topology setup reduces deployment complexity and eliminates potential errors.

It provides a seamless management experience with single interface for full-stack lifecycle management (LCM). Capabilities include continuously validated state assurance, skip-level upgrades, multi-node operations, and rapid availability of updates and security patches.

IT admins can use familiar tools, such as Windows Admin Center and the Azure portal, for a simple, consistent and centralized way of operating dispersed Azure deployments.
Integration with Azure management and governance services via Azure Arc help simplify management of dispersed Azure deployments and ensure consistent security and compliance across locations.

Full Stack Lifecycle Management

Lifecycle management is critical to ensuring the optimal security, performance, and reliability of any infrastructure. With APEX Cloud Platform Foundation Software, Dell helps customers remain in a continuously validated state – updating the platform from one known good state to the next, inclusive of hardware, operating system, and systems management software. 

Within the Dell APEX Cloud Platform extension integrated into Windows Admin Center, you will find a comprehensive view of update categories, their regular release schedules, and detailed descriptions. What's particularly convenient is that you can seamlessly perform lifecycle management without ever having to leave this interface.
The platform autonomously checks update repositories at regular intervals, ensuring that all available updates are promptly reflected in the Updates tab, typically within a mere 4 hours of release.

Advantages of ACP for Azure lifecycle management:
  • Simplified Update Management: All update workflows for various components are seamlessly consolidated within a unified experience. There's no need to venture outside Dell's intuitive interface within Admin Center to apply updates.
  • Optimal Configuration: The system is maintained in a validated state and optimal configuration at all times.
  • Rapid Availability: Updates are swiftly ready for application, typically within a mere 4 hours of their public release.
  • Minimized Disruption: Comprehensive health checks are conducted before and during updates to prevent disruption to ongoing workloads.
    In addition, the Cluster-Aware Updating feature to ensure that updates are performed on one node at a time.
  • Enhanced Reliability: Automatic retry mechanisms and proactive remediation of known issues contribute to heightened system reliability.

The following video demos lifecycle management of ACP for Microsoft Azure:

Hardware Platforms

APEX Cloud Platform use common hardware building blocks - these Multicloud (MC) nodes, come with the latest Azure Stack HCI OS pre-installed across a variety of hardware configurations to satisfy the differing needs of datacenters, edge locations and branch offices.

The MC-660 and MC-760 are based on 16th generation PowerEdge servers. Hardware components and full stack software versions (including BIOS, firmware, driver, OS patches, management software, etc.) have been selected to optimize performance and experience of your chosen cloud software stack.
Configurations include NVMe, SSD and Hybrid storage configurations to choose from, and they are both dual-socket systems running Intel’s 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors.

Available post initial launch, the MC-4000 is a short-depth, edge server purpose-built for unpredictable and often challenging deployment environments.
Whether it’s in the space-constrained back-offices of your retail locations, or directly next to heavy machinery on your dusty manufacturing floors, the server delivers flexible compute capabilities.
The MC-4000 is designed around a unique chassis and compute sled concept.
The chassis consists of two 14"-depth form factors, providing "rackable" and "stackable" options.
The actual compute resides in modular sleds coming in 1U or 2U form factors; with power being the only shared component between the sleds.

Hybrid Architecture with Azure Arc

Azure Arc provides a set of technologies that unlock key hybrid scenarios by bringing Azure services and management to any infrastructure.
From its single control plane in Azure, organizations can manage, govern and secure non-Azure Cloud resources side by side with native Azure resources, all from the comfort of the Azure portal.

Azure Arc is a bridge that extends the Azure platform to help build and run applications and services with the flexibility to run across on-premises datacenters, at the edge, and in multicloud environments. It allows developers to build cloud-native applications with a consistent development, operations, and security model.

Focusing on modernizing applications, Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) Hybrid provides the capability to consistently develop, deploy, and operate containerized applications across both the public cloud and on-premises. 

Azure Arc-enabled data services allow you to run Azure data services on-premises and in multicloud environments using Kubernetes. This gives you the flexibility to choose the best environment for your data workloads, while still benefiting from the innovation and cloud benefits of Azure.
Azure offers a suite of data services, with Azure SQL Managed Instance serving as a prime example of a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) data solution. Through the integration of Azure Arc, this service gains an on-premises counterpart in the form of Azure Arc-enabled data services.