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Dell unveils IoT vision

Steve Rogerson
October 12, 2017
Dell Technologies has unveiled its IoT vision and strategy, formed an IoT division and added IoT specific products, labs, partner programme and consumption models. The announcement is said to underscore the Texas company’s commitment to helping customers realise their digital future by safely navigating the complex and often fragmented IoT landscape.
"IoT is fundamentally changing how we live, how organisations operate and how the world works," said Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Technologies. "Dell Technologies is leading the way for our customers with a new distributed computing architecture that brings IoT and artificial intelligence together in one, interdependent ecosystem from the edge to the core to the cloud. The implications for our global society will be nothing short of profound."
He said the firm’s customers had expressed a growing need for one company to pull together complete IoT products and services that could be deployed within their organisations. Dell's approach to the IoT is based on technology and services and a carefully curated partner ecosystem.
The company's new IoT division will be led by Ray O'Farrell, CTO of Dell subsidiary VMware, and is chartered with orchestrating the development of IoT products and services across the Dell family. The division will combine internally developed technologies with offerings from the ecosystem to deliver complete services.
"Dell Technologies has long seen the opportunity within the rapidly growing world of IoT, given its rich history in the edge computing market," said O'Farrell. "Our new IoT division will leverage the strength across all of Dell Technologies’ family of businesses to ensure we deliver the right solution – in combination with our vast partner ecosystem – to meet customer needs and help them deploy integrated IoT systems with greater ease."
Over the next three years, Dell Technologies is investing $1bn in IoT products, labs, partner programme and ecosystem.
Today Dell Technologies already provides edge gateways that can be secured and managed by the VMware Pulse IoT Control Center. Dell EMC PowerEdge C-Series servers have been enhanced for batch training and machine learning as a part of the distributed core. Dell EMC Isilon and Elastic Cloud Storage provide file and object storage for massive amounts of data and enable analytics through HDFS. Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) and Pivotal Container Service provide a platform for developing cloud-based analytics applications. Virtustream's PCF service provides a managed pivotal cloud foundry service simplifying the deployment and operation of mission-critical cloud architected workloads in Virtustream Enterprise Cloud, while Virtustream Storage Cloud is available for off-premises cloud object storage. Finally, Dell Boomi connects relevant data to enhance cloud-based analytics and deep learning.
Product development initiatives include Dell EMC Project Nautilus, software that enables the ingestion and querying of data streams from IoT gateways in real time. Data can subsequently be archived to file or object storage for deeper advanced analytics.
Project Fire is a hyper converged platform, part of the VMware Pulse family, and includes simplified management, local compute, storage and IoT applications such as real-time analytics. It lets businesses roll-out IoT use cases faster and have consistent infrastructure software from edge to core to cloud.
Project Iris is under development in RSA Labs to extends the security analytics capability to provide threat visibility and monitoring out to the edge.
Disruptive technologies such as processor accelerators will increase the velocity of analytics closer to the edge. Collaboration with companies such as VMware, Intel and NVidia and the Dell Technologies investment in Graphcore reflect opportunities to optimise servers for AI, machine learning and deep learning performance.
And Project Worldwide Herd is for performing analytics on geographically dispersed data, increasingly important to enable deep learning on datasets that cannot be moved for reasons of size, privacy and regulatory concern.
IoT services initiatives include IoT Vision Workshop, which identifies and prioritises high-value business use cases for IoT data, essentially how and where to deploy IoT analytics that drive business. And IoT Technology Advisory develops the overall IoT architecture and roadmap for implementation.
In addition, with the core focus on technology and services, Dell Technologies' strategy is to grow the IoT footprint via a strong partner programme and ecosystem. Its partner programme is a carefully curated, multi-tiered programme comprising more than ninety partners from enterprises such as Intel, Microsoft and SAP to start-ups Action Point, IMS Evolve, FogHorn and Zingbox.
The programme will now support partners across all Dell Technologies businesses, allowing for easier collaboration and implementation of blueprints.
An example of the partner ecosystem at work is the recent announcement that VMware and SAP are collaborating for IoT analytics and vertical applications. This uses VMware Pulse IoT Center, SAP Cloud Platform and SAP Leonardo and is designed to help users roll out IoT use cases faster and scale more easily.
Dell continues its commitment to openness and standardisation in IoT by participation in efforts such as Edge X Foundry, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OpenFog Consortium. Seeded by Dell source code, Edge X Foundry is a vendor-neutral open source project building a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for edge computing.
Since launching in April this year, Edge X Foundry has grown to more than sixty member organisations. Recently the project announced its first major milestone with the Barcelona code release, as well as an alliance with the IIC to collaborate on testbeds.
The IoT is creating revenue models and, in turn, Dell Technologies is offering financing options to support customers. In particular, it provides cloud-like payment options through Dell Financial Services’ flexible consumption models. These are available across the Dell businesses and allow customers flexibility in technology acquisition and consumption.
Venture arm Dell Technologies Capital is partnering closely with the IoT division, providing industry insight and relationships to support its strategic agenda. Through its investments in promising start-ups and founders, it provides a link to the external innovation ecosystem, effectively accelerating the development and deployment of IoT, AI and ML technologies.