Dell IQT event entrance Recently, the Moor Insights & Strategy (MI&S) team was on the road in New York City learning more about Dell Technologies strategy and vision for the Internet of Things (IoT). The event, called IQT, exhibited what the company is doing to make devices, networks, and infrastructure smarter. Dell Technologies is focusing on helping its customers to efficiently address the challenges of navigating the IoT marketplace. With that goal in mind, the company announced at the event a Pan- Dell Technologies IoT Solutions Division. The aim of this organization is to leverage the core strengths of the Dell Technologies family of companies ( Dell, Dell EMC , Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream , and VMware ) together with offerings from its partners and systems integrators, to deliver blueprints and reference architectures—while also providing a one-stop shop for customers seeking consulting and deployment. Arguably, the result is the first end-to-end, open IoT ecosystem in this highly fragmented marketplace. For more information about this event and Dell Technologies ’ IoT strategy, CLICK HERE to download a comprehensive white paper we recently published on the topic. IoT is changing how industries do business, and promises a significant return on investment in operational efficiency, improved customer experience, risk mitigation, and enabling entirely new business models. Furthermore, with increasing global economic and regulatory pressures, there is growing demand for IoT solutions to address these challenges. Many IoT projects start with the need to gain better visibility into a process, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within IoT create new opportunities to enhance insights—and in many instances, automate decision-making. Although the notion of computing based on data collected from things was not born yesterday, it has recently become more practical because of smaller, faster, cost-effective computing, increased connectivity, and increased storage density. Devices can now store, manage, and analyze vast amounts of information across billions of distributed devices in real-time. Incorporating AI and ML into the IoT equation is a game-changer. Dell Technologies showcased many use cases and applications that leverage AI and ML in global supply chains, manufacturing, healthcare, genomics, and other industries. One of the things that impressed me the most about IQT was Dell’s commitment to funding innovation in this space—the company announced $1B in investment over the next 3 years. The conference kicked off with showcases from several of Dell s investment portfolio companies: ZingBox (which has an IoT cybersecurity solution—one of my top companies to watch), Fog Horn(which provides edge-intelligence for edge devices), Graphcore(which delivers processors designed to accelerate AI), Moogsoft (for AI applications into IT Ops), and Edico Genome (who has developed a Bio-IT processor for sequencing genomic data). Each of these companies is doing fantastic work to move the convergence of IoT and data analysis forward. Net-net, there is a significant market for start-up investment in IoT, data processing, and AI/ML—it’s clear that Dell Technologies has recognized their role as a leader in these industries.
In addition to the new organization and emphasis on investing in innovation, Dell Technologies announced several "projects" for new product development initiatives. From the IQT press release:
- “ 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 more in-depth advanced analytics;
- ‘Project Fire’: a hyper-converged platform part of the VMware Pulse family of IoT solutions that includes simplified management, local compute, storage and IoT applications such as real-time analytics. ‘Project Fire’ enables businesses to roll-out IoT use cases faster and have consistent infrastructure software from edge to core to cloud;
- RSA ‘Project IRIS’: Currently under development in RSA Labs, Iris extends the Security Analytics capability to provide threat visibility and monitoring right out to the edge;
- Disruptive technologies like processor accelerators will increase the velocity of analytics closer to the edge. Collaboration with industry leaders like VMware , Intel and NVIDIA and the Dell Technologies Capital investment in Graphcore reflect opportunities to optimize servers for AI, machine learning, and deep learning performance.
- Project ‘Worldwide Herd’: 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 deployments require many different technologies and areas of expertise to ensure systems support interoperability, security, and privacy. No one vendor can do it all. Pragmatic organizations choose the right solutions provider to help them determine an open architecture to integrate the right partners to achieve their unique business goals. For the past three years, Dell has built a strong presence in the market with its purpose-built IoT products (such as edge gateways and embedded PCs). It has also established an ecosystem of over 90 technology and services partners to complement its infrastructure offerings, spanning from sensors to analytics. Additionally, through its OEM division, Dell has long-standing experience selling into operations technologies (OT), industrial solutions providers, and OEMs. As a result, Dell claims to have amassed over 600 buying customers with IoT projects—ranging in maturity from Proof of Concepts (PoCs) to large-scale deployments. VMware has also made new investments in IoT in the form of its Pulse IoT Center offering, and other businesses within Dell Technologies have been making similar IoT investments. One challenge Dell will face is corralling and getting each of these organizations moving in the right direction. To help mitigate this, Dell has assigned a strong leadership team—from both a market and technology perspective.
A layered approach for successful IoT managementThere are three main components to Dell's ecosystem: the Edge, the Core, and the Cloud. Each represents a division of labor and intelligence, and to fully comprehend Dell ’s IoT strategy, it is essential to understand how data is processed, secured, and managed across each layer.
- The Edge: IoT data, by definition, originates from the physical world at the network edge. For example, this information could be data about energy usage from a smart meter, video from surveillance cameras, telemetry data from drones, process parameters from programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and so on. When real-time response is required in physical systems, as in the case of an airbag, control decisions are applied at the Edge. Going further, as ML and AI creep into edge devices, they are afforded with even more ability to process perishable information "while it matters," so that only meaningful data is sent to the cloud or data center. This saves on bandwidth and overall latency for further data processing. The Edge is the critical checkpoint to ensure data pedigree and to see that information delivery is on time and as advertised.
- The Core is the second layer of intelligence in the Dell Technologies IoT strategy. Dell defines the Core as on-premise hardware and software infrastructure that enhances capability for compute, analytics, storage, security, and manageability. Core compute consists entirely of server-class processing and spans from micro-modular to full-blown IT data centers. The blur between edge and core compute lies at server-class processing running immediately proximal to things (devices generating data). Dell recognizes IoT networks will, by nature, become more decentralized and distributed as the number of sensors grow exponentially. Dell moves some of the decision-making processes to a combination of the Edge and Core, which reduces the amount of information sent to the cloud—thereby improving response times and performance, and reducing backhaul costs.
- The Cloud: For ML and AI algorithms to be efficient, they must be derived from massive amounts of quality data. Training deep learning algorithms requires sophisticated, large-scale processing across vast and disparate datasets. The Cloud gives Dell the ability to deploy data-centric solutions at scale across multiple environments: public, private, or hybrid. Dell Technologies offers an end-to-end data processing and storage solution, and benefits from a long legacy of partnerships and OEM alliances with leading applications and solution providers across the industry. Moreover, Dell's portfolio of solutions helps accelerate customer adoption and move POCs into production.