Dell Accelerating IoT Focus from Enterprise to the Edge

  • December 12, 2017
  • Feature
Dell Accelerating IoT Focus from Enterprise to the Edge
Dell Accelerating IoT Focus from Enterprise to the Edge

By Bill Lydon, Editor,

The rapid expansion of the Internet of Things into manufacturing has seen several companies, many not previously associated with manufacturing, working to leverage the new technologies to enhance the industry with connected industrial solutions. I saw a prominent example of this when I attended the Dell IQT analyst and media day, in New York City, on  October 10, 2017. At the event, Dell announced their Dell Technologies IoT Division launch, with the aim of accelerating the company’s position as a trusted partner,  helping customers to realize their digital future and to be competitive, with a heavy focus on manufacturing..

Dell views themselves as the leader in digitalization throughout all various industries, with manufacturing being a key market.   This manufacturing focus, during the keynote presentations, included a demonstration of an ABB Yumi collaborative robot on stage, which illustrated the value of edge to enterprise integration.


ABB Yumi robot on stage illustrating the value of edge to enterprise integration.  


Inside Dell’s IoT Commitment & Enthusiasm

As part of these keynotes, Michael Dell delivered an enthusiastic observation on the state of today’s technological business environment. “Today we are sitting at the beginning of a new reality. This is a reality where sensors act as senses and the processing is done in silicone and software,” exuded Dell,  “Soon there will be a perfect digital mirror of our world with every object streaming information. It will be everywhere and everything that is the Internet of Things and ultimately it will be the Internet of everything.”  

Dell noted how connectivity is already bringing new capabilities to the industry. “With the cost of a connected node approaching zero dollars, the number of them is absolutely exploding,” Dell explained, “We will be awash in rich data but more importantly will have the ability to harness that data with unprecedented computing power and fifth-generation connectivity.”  He further discussed how these connected advancements set the stage for data analysis tools that will drive radical changes and improvements, not just for manufacturing, but throughout global society. “I believe AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning will be the jet engines of human progress, and data will be the fuel for that progress,” predicted Dell, “At Dell, we store more than half the world’s mission-critical data and our job is to innovate, along with our customers and partners, the secure infrastructure to loop that data into a cycle of continuous cycle innovation and improvement.” 

Throughout his presentation it became clear that Michael Dell believes that they are creating the backbone and infrastructure for the next industrial revolution.

Michael Dell stated, “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.”

Dell’s IoT Division cuts the whole of the organzation, with technology in its Embedded Technology division designed for edge devices & computing, storage, RSA security, VMWare, and Pivotal software.   In addition, Dell Technologies Capital is investing in companies to fill holes in the portfolio.  Over the next three years, Dell Technologies plans to invest $1B in new IoT products, solutions, labs, partner programs and ecosystem.


The Future of Edge Computing

To head up their IoT effort, Dell appointed Ray O’Farrell to be the Dell Technologies IoT General Manager, moving over from his role as VMware Chief Technology Officer.  O’Farrell is tasked with orchestrating the development of IoT products and services across the Dell Technologies family. The goal is to combine internally developed technologies with offerings from the Dell Technologies ecosystem of partners, in order to deliver complete customer solutions.   From the discussions I had with him, O’Farrell has a clear vision of integrated systems from the cloud to the edge, though he isn’t the only one.

Ray O’Farrell, Technologies IoT General Manager, illustrated how IoT connected edge to enterprise is being accomplished.

A great example of the Dell commitment to edge computing and standardization is their participation in the EdgeX Foundry open source Linux project, which was seeded by Dell source code.  EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral open source project, working to build a common interoperability framework to facilitate an ecosystem for edge computing. Recently, the project announced its first major milestone with the ‘Barcelona’ code release, as well as an alliance with the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) to collaborate on testbeds.


Dell’s Customer Focused IoT Resources

As the IoT environment is still fraught with complexities, Dell Technologies is ramping up resources to help customers understand and define their IoT and digitalization strategies. These resources include:

  • Dell Internet of Things (IoT) Solutions Labs which are available for customers to explore, test and deploy IoT solutions, in order to help drive business outcomes and accelerate time to market. There are currently three labs located in Dell Solution Centers in Santa Clara, California; Limerick, Ireland; and Singapore.  Engagements can either take place in a Dell lab or remotely through Dell Technologies’ dedicated network. Here, customers will be provided with comprehensive hardware and software resources, and can work with experts to test their solutions. A Dell Technologies senior solution architect manages the Proof of Concept, and coordinates with any vendors and partners.  This resource is provided free of charge for qualified customers and partners.
  • IoT Vision Workshop works to identify and prioritize high-value business use cases for IoT data – essentially how and where to deploy IoT analytics that drive business.
  • IoT Technology Advisory works to develops the overall IoT architecture and roadmap for implementation.


Bill’s Thoughts & Observations

In discussions with Dell management, as well as other IT suppliers, the overall theme is this: Very soon, all of the infrastructure, software, data management, cybersecurity, analytics, machine learning/artificial intelligence applications for a manufacturing business - just short of real-time control inside of final edge devices (PLC, PAC, smart field devices, etc.) - will be provided and managed by IT suppliers.   

It’s already taking place in many organizations. I have had discussions with a number of users, over the last two years, who are managing operations using this model.  In fact, many of these users have hybrid group of IT and automation people.   This pattern was also reflective of the patterns I observed at the Inductive Automation conference this year. Clearly there is a lot of momentum driving this effort forward.


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