What Surprises Dell Research Has in Its Five-Year Product Plan

What Surprises Dell Research Has in Its Five-Year Product Plan
Dell Using a Hybrid Innovation Strategy
Jai Menon Running the Show
Mood Sensing and Determining User Intent
Continuous Authentication
Seamless Mobility
Software-Based Data Centers
High-Velocity Cloud
What Dell Is Planning This Year and Next
Looking Out at 2017 and 2018
What We Will See in 2019 and 2020
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What Surprises Dell Research Has in Its Five-Year Product Plan

By Chris Preimesberger

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Dell Using a Hybrid Innovation Strategy

Dell Research already has a deep pool of talent and intellectual property from which to pull in researching new products and services. The company also augments its internal research with an extended external community that includes university alliances, to leverage that wealth of knowledge for the benefit of Dell's customers. With a team of industry and technical experts, Dell Research is focused on multiple R&D projects in five major areas: data and data insights; Internet of things (IoT); mobility and next-generation UX; next-generation infrastructure and cloud; and security.

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Jai Menon Running the Show

Previously at Dell, Chief Research Officer Jai Menon served as chief technology officer and vice president of the Enterprise Solutions Group. Before joining Dell, Menon held various executive and research positions in a 30-year career at IBM, including IBM Fellow; VP of Technical Strategy; vice-chair of IBM Academy of Technology; VP of Architecture and Strategy, Software and Storage; and co-director of IBM's Storage Systems Institute.

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Mood Sensing and Determining User Intent

Dell Research is examining the relationships between users and their devices very closely. For example, one project is exploring how to detect a user's emotional state with sensors that track bio signals such as heart rate, ECG, perspiration, etc., to then use that information to drive even more useful services and better experiences for the user. Use cases include gaming manufacturers, manufacturing or the standard office workplace.

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Continuous Authentication

Dell is increasing the security of devices with continuous authentication, a process based on personal gesture metrics. If someone steals your phone, tablet or laptop, this security device will render the device useless to the thief. With this software, the device will know whether or not you, as the owner, are using it. It records a user's touch, swipe styles and other characteristics so that when someone new starts using it, it will recognize that swipes and tap patterns are different from those of the owner, and the device will shut itself off.

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Seamless Mobility

For voice, smartphones now can move between the worlds of WiFi and cellular easily. They can use one or the other, and even both at the same time. However, this isn't the case for data. Dell is working on maximizing connectivity of devices without interrupting applications when moving around different environments via seamless mobility with over-the-top roaming.

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Software-Based Data Centers

These are not the "software-defined" data centers that are being built all over the world. Dell's idea is not to "define" them with software running older applications; Dell is flat-out controlling even newer data centers with completely rewritten software. More and more functions that required specialized separate boxes—such as routing and switching—are becoming software and being converged into servers. Dell, not previously known for software development innovation, is working on these new software projects in several locations—mainly in what was formerly Quest Software in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

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High-Velocity Cloud

Faster, smarter, better: This software project optimizes standard servers for high-performance packet processing and enables up to a 20x improvement in the capability of virtualized standard servers to handle network-intensive functions.

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What Dell Is Planning This Year and Next

According to Menon, by the end of 2015, the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon will be generally accepted by enterprises and will stop being fought by C-level and IT executives. Thus, the focus will shift to improving usage of personal devices in the workplace. This is already being productized elsewhere, and Dell is also working on it. By 2016, Menon said, the IoT will fuel an explosion of Internet-connected devices that will create both new challenges for developers and opportunities for enterprises of all types. Dell is well aware of this potential market.

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Looking Out at 2017 and 2018

Menon said that by 2017, data protection will evolve beyond leakage protection and move into more proactive approaches. Also by 2017, next-generation nonvolatile memory will arrive to boost servers and storage to new levels of efficiency. Menon, whose background is in storage, is particularly interested in that development. By 2018, user interfaces will evolve to determine more about user intent (see Slide 3), and security will shift from reactive to predictive and become context-aware. Some of these capabilities are available now, but they are still in the early stages.

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What We Will See in 2019 and 2020

By 2019, Menon says, cloud security will be strengthened greatly by homomorphic encryption. Homomorphic encryption is a form of encryption that allows computations to be carried out on ciphertext, thus generating an encrypted result that, when decrypted, matches the result of operations performed on the plaintext. It's complicated! By 2020, specialization via software will replace customized hardware; analytics will evolve from descriptive to predictive to prescriptive; and real-time data analytics will be seamlessly integrated into business processes.

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